On August 19th, just three hours after being detained by elements of the municipal police, accused of an administrative fault, Abigail Hay Urrutia, a 30-year-old woman, was found dead inside the Salina Cruz jail cell on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.
According to the authorities, the young woman was driving and presumably arguing with her partner, at which time she was detained by a group of municipal agents who took her to the police station. In that place they detained her, to later be transferred for a medical verification. Subsequently, Abigail H. was turned over to the civic judge who offered her three options to pay for the offense committed: payment of a fine, community service or 24 hours in jail. According to the judge, Abigail H. agreed to jail. She had only been there for three hours when she was found dead.
According to the municipal court report, Abigail H. allegedly took her own life inside the partitions, without the guards noticing her. “My sister did not commit suicide”, Margarita Hay, 35, told El Pais. “It was not a suicide, it was a femicide”, the family clarified in each interview and demanded justice. “There is a high probability that it is a femicide, and aggravated, because they are public officials”, said Yesica Sanchez Maya, from the National Femicide Observatory and part of the Oaxaca Consortium organization. “Perhaps they wanted to defend themselves against aggression and they have become more violent. Femicide has to do with an issue of power and impairment of women’s bodies. Even arguing that she committed suicide with her panties is sexist and re-victimizing”, she added.
The activist stressed that one of the main problems of sexist violence in the State has to do with impunity and the inaction of the authorities, who barely issue arrest warrants and investigate the violent deaths of women. The Oaxaca Prosecutor’s Office indicated that it is investigating the death of Abigail H., mother of two children, according to the femicide protocol. However, the Public Ministry released the result of a second autopsy indicating that the woman died asphyxiated by hanging, not by strangulation, which reinforces the theory of alleged suicide.
The Regidor of Parks and Recreations of Public Spaces, requested the appearance of the Judge in an extraordinary hearing. But the architect Daniel Mendez Sosa, president of Salina Cruz, denied that Jose Alberto Luis Vazquez, who works as Qualifying Civic Judge, could appear before the hearing for Abigail’s death. For this reason, the population in Salina Cruz considered that the municipal president is covering up for the municipal police, for which they asked for justice.
It should be noted that the Ombudsman for Human Rights of the People of Oaxaca (DDHPO), confirmed on August 23rd a second death that occurred in municipal installations of Santa María Huatulco, totaling eight deaths in custody this year. It warned that “detention centers are areas of high risk of human rights violations”, since it received between January 2020 and August 2022 474 complaints regarding actions that could configure police abuse throughout the entity. Finally, he insisted on improving mechanisms that guarantee the security of prisoners and that the elements of the municipal security forces require that they be provided with legal and technical tools so that they can carry out their activities without violating human rights or the legal framework.
For more information in Spanish:
«Entró viva ysalió muerta»: las sospechas que rodean el caso de Abigail Hay tras su detención en Oaxaca (El País, 24 de agosto de 2022)
La muerte de Abigail destapa abusos policiales en centros de detención de Oaxaca (EDUCA, 23 de agosto de 2022)
Esto es lo que se sabe de la muerte de Abigail en una cárcel municipal, caso que indigna a Oaxaca (El Universal, 22 de agosto de 2022)
Oaxaca: exigen justicia para Abigail, joven hallada sin vida en su celda(Expansión política, 23 de agosto de 2022)
For more infromation from SIPAZ:
Oaxaca: Murder, Violence and Feminist Protests in Framework of Guelaguetza (August 7, 2022)
Oaxaca: Un indignante panorama de violencia para las mujeres y niñas oaxaqueñas (June 30, 2022)