LRWC and the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales applaud the creation the Digna Ochoa y Plácido Human Rights Centre and support the continuation of Digna Ochoa’s human rights advocacy by the Centre.
Lawyers Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) and the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (BHRC) applaud the creation the Digna Ochoa y Plácido Human Rights Centre and support the continuation of Digna Ochoa’s human rights advocacy by the Centre.
Digna Ochoa was an exemplary woman and lawyer who devoted herself to making the world better. As a lawyer, Digna Ochoa believed in the law as an instrument of justice. She fought against the use of the law as the means of repression. At the cost of her life she insisted that the law be held to a standard of justice and refused to accept injustice or the unequal application of the law for her clients.
As Dean Grossman, President of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights said; ” The murder of Digna Ochoa is an affront to the Inter-American community. When defenders of human rights themselves become victims, democratic society as a whole is under attack. We must not allow this crime to go unpunished.”
LRWC/BHRC believe that the death of Digna Ochoa represents a failure of effective implementation and enforcement of existing national and international laws and standards ensuring the safety and independence of lawyers and other human rights defenders. While the questions of responsibility for the threats and assaults to Ms Ochoa and for the death of Ms. Ochoa remain unresolved, the safety of all lawyers representing unpopular causes and clients remains in jeopardy.
LRWC/BHRC are gravely concerned that:
- one year after Digna’s death the investigation of her murder appears to be at a standstill.
- one year after the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ordered the state of Mexico to implement all necessary measures to conduct a full investigation of Digna Ochoa’s murder there have been no charges laid and no suspects identified.
- three years after the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ordered the state of Mexico to “adopt, without delay, all measures necessary” to protect the life and safety of Digna Ochoa and to investigate threats and attacks against Digna for the purpose of discovering those responsible and punishing them, Digna Ochoa is dead and the investigation ordered has been shelved.
LRWC/BHRC hope that the appointment of experts does not serve to further delay a bona fide investigation. If the terms of reference are confined to verifying the reliability of individual pieces of evidence gathered to date and exclude a review of the reliability of investigation itself, expert opinions may fail to help ensure that a proper, exhaustive investigation is conducted.
LRWC/BHRC continues to call for a proper investigation of the crimes committed against Digna Ochoa and for the implementation of adequate safeguards of the independence and personal security of all human rights defenders in Mexico.
The Digna Ochoa y Plácido Human Rights Centre will, we hope, have the resources to continue the work of Digna Ochoa in upholding justice and the rule of law.