Pedro Canche Herrera, Nestora Salgado and Enrique Guerrero Aviña (Photo@: Consorciooaxaca)
On December 14, 2016, the report Arbitrary and Illegal Detentions – Criminalization: a State Policy to Inhibit the Defense of Human Rights in Mexico, jointly prepared by 11 Mexican and international civil society organizations, was launched in Oaxaca. This report analyzes the case of five human rights defenders who were “illegally arrested without warrant and imprisoned for crimes they committed only for their legitimate activities in defense of human rights”: Damian Gallardo Martinez, Enrique Guerrero Aviña, Librado Baños Rodriguez, Pedro Canche Herrera and Nestora Salgado – the last two of whom have already been released.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions, having studied these cases, confirmed that they were arbitrary detentions and that they were carried out “without warrant or charges against them [those involved in the said cases]“. The WG underlined the numerous irregularities presented by criminal proceedings. In its opinion, the detention of Librado Baños corresponds to “acts of retaliation and reprisal for his active defense of the rights of the indigenous and Afro-descendant population of the region.” It should be noted that the Working Group stated that it requested information from the Mexican Government regarding those cases, which was not provided in the legal period for that purpose.
The 11 organizations and relatives of the victims say that the arrests, acts of torture and other human rights violations they have been subjected to illustrate “a much broader pattern of criminalization of social protest in Mexico that seeks to inhibit the defense of human rights and social protest, turning them into illegal and criminal activities. In addition to this the fact that, far from affecting the eradication of this practice, the Mexican state continues to detain and intimidate defenders in the country.”
The authors of the report emphasize that “the responsibility for these violations of human rights is shared between the plurality of players directly or indirectly involved in the process of criminalization and arbitrary detention of defenders: the Mexican State may be involved at different levels, federal and state, as well as the police, the army, the same government authorities, the judiciary through justice operators, sharing responsibility with private players such as private companies and landowners.”
During the presentation of the report, the organizations and families demanded: “the immediate release of Damian Gallardo, Enrique Guerrero and Librado Baños as well as the cessation of criminalization and full reparation to the five human rights defenders for the numerous human rights violations to which they have been subjected.”
The report clarifies that “the five cases of arbitrary detention presented show the serious human rights crisis in Mexico. These five cases are emblematic and represent only a small part of the arbitrary detentions that occur with impunity in the country.”
For more information in Spanish:
Inéditas, 5 detenciones arbitrarias de defensores de DDHH reconocidas por la ONU (Aristegui Noticias, 14 de diciembre de 2016)
ONGs documentan detenciones arbitrarias de defensoras y defensores, familiares exigen su libertad (Educa, 15 de diciembre 2016)
Informe : detenciones arbitraria e ilegal (Consorcio Oaxaca, diciembre 2016)
For more information from SIPAZ: