Silvia Juarez Juarez (photo @OMCT)
On March 28th, Silvia Juarez Juarez, a community human rights defender and member of the Movement in Defense of Zoque Territory, was released having been held for 35 days. This movement has been developing a process of civil and peaceful resistance against exploration, extraction of hydrocarbons and mining projects in the municipality of Tecpaan, Chiapas and in the Zoque region. Silvia had been arrested on February 21st in Tuxtla Gutierrez on charges of mutiny, harassment and kidnapping – allegedly against municipal officials – in the framework of a protest in which she did not participate, on February 13th.
On March 28th, the head of the State Attorney General’s Office, Raciel Lopez Salazar, withdrew from the criminal action for the crimes that were charged “considering that the agent of the Public Prosecutor’s Office lacked elements to prove the aforementioned crimes.” Therefore, the activist was released from the State Center for Social Reinsertion of the Sentenced No. 14, El Amate, in the municipality Cintalapa de Figueroa.
Nevertheless, Silvia Juarez is still subject to prosecution, “with the obligation to sign before the Court every two weeks, because Judge Cesar Rodriguez Robles, Supervisory Judge, considered that there are elements to prove the crime of damages. Facing threats of risk to her integrity and repeated harassment against the defenders of Zoque territory, Silvia Juarez cannot return home with her family.”
It is also worth mentioning that on the day Silvia Juarez Juarez was released, “the municipal president of Tecpatan, Armando Pastrana Jimenez, filed for an injunction for the withdrawal of the PGJE to prevent the community defender from leaving prison” and also maintained his complaint against 29 other community defenders.
In a statement on the case, the Fray Bartolome de Las Casas Center for Human Rights (FRAYBA), expressed concern that “despite changes in the criminal justice system, in Chiapas, practices of violations of judicial guarantees and judicial protection, including presumption of innocence, continue, which result in arbitrary deprivation of liberty.”
For more information in Spanish:
Libre activista zoque, tras desistimiento de denuncia de PGJ Chiapas (Proceso, 5 de abril de 2017)
Liberan a indígena zoque Silvia Juárez (Expreso Chiapas, 6 de abril de 2017)
Silvia Juárez Juárez, defensora del territorio, en libertad (Chiapas Paralelo, 6 de abril de 2017)
Libre Silvia Juárez, defensora zoque (Primera edición Chiapas, 5 de abril de 2017)
Condena el Frayba encarcelamiento de Silvia Juárez (El Heraldo de Chiapas, 5 de abril de 2017)
Luego de 35 días en prisión, la activista Silvia Juárez Juárez es liberada (Aqui Noticias, 6 de abril de 2017)
For more information from SIPAZ:
Chiapas : denuncian criminalización de defensores de la Madre Tierra en zona zoque (1 de marzo de 2017)
Chiapas : comunidades zoques se oponen a extracción de hidrocarburos en el norte de Chiapas (20 de octubre de 2016)