On 22 February 2011, rights-defenders José María Martínez Cruz and Eduardo Alonso Martínez Silva, both lawyers at the Digna Ochoa Center for Human Rights, and Nataniel Hernández Núñez, director of the organization, were arrested while carrying out documentation activities of possible human-rights violations after being informed that police units had been detaining individuals who had been engaging in a highway roadblock between Tonalá and Pijijiapan.
Arrested together with these rights-defenders were 16 other people who have been released. The members of the Digna Ochoa Center for Human Rights were transferred from the city of Tonalá to the State Center for Social Reinsertion of the Sentenced No. 14, El Amate (CERSS no. 14, El Amate), located in the municipality of Cintalapa where they are presently being held for the crime of mutiny. The State Attorney General’s Office (PGJE) bases its case against them on declarations of witnesses present during the day of the blockade who have indicated that the accused “are those who on 21 February led a group of people who blocked highway between the municipalities of Tonalá and Pijijiapan for several hours.”
In a communiqué released from el Amate, the Digna Ochoa rights-defenders claim that “the repression to which we members of the Digna Ochoa Center for Human Rights have been subjected which holds us three members without liberty […] utilizes the justice system and institutions to silence our struggle.” In addition they denounced arbitrary detentions, physical, verbal, and psychological violence, and the lack of communication they suffered, among other violations to due process in the administration of their case. With reference to the 13 detained from the Autonomous Council of the Coast of Chiapas, they stressed that declarations were signed under duress, without the possibility of reviewing them.
For its part, the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Center for Human Rights (CDHFBC) manifested in a bulletin its “concern for the use of legal action against human-rights defenders toward the end of judicially harassing them and discrediting their work for the defense and promotion of human rights.” The CDHFBC demanded that the state government of Chiapas “observe its obligation to put an end to all aggressions and/or other obstacles to the work of human-rights defenders in Chiapas.”
For more information (in Spanish):
Internan en El Amate a abogados defensores de DH de Chiapas (La Jornada, 26 February 2011)
Procesan a defensores de indígenas de Agua Azul (El Universal, 26 February 2011)
Denuncia de los tres abogados del Centro de Derechos Humanos Digna Ochoa (Desde el Amate, 26 February 2011)
Acción Urgente del Observatorio para la Protección de Derechos Humanos (FIDH, OMCT- 27 February 2011)
Preocupación por la detención al Director del Centro de Derechos Humanos Digna Ochoa y a dos de sus colaboradores, todos defensores de derechos humanos (Boletín del Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas, 25 February 2011)
For more information from SIPAZ (in English):
Chiapas: Judicial harassment of human-rights defender (21 June 2010)