Arturo Requenses Galnares, human rights defender

Re: Arturo Requenses Galnares, human rights defender

To: Attorney General of the Republic, General Rafael Marcial Macedo de la Concha

From: Gail Davidson

Date: 2002-07-24

Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (“LRWC”) is a committee of Canadian lawyers providing support internationally to lawyers whose rights, safety, or independence are threatened as a result of their human rights advocacy.

LRWC is concerned about threats to the safety of Arturo Requenses Galnares, a human rights defender working with Acción de los Cristianos para la Abolición de la Tortura, (ACAT), Christian Action for the Abolition of Torture. LRWC has received information from Amnesty International that Mr. Galnares received a threatening phone call and has been under surveillance.

On July 16, 2002, Mr. Galnares noticed six men in an unidentified vehicle with blacked-out windows driving slowly past his house.

On July 17, 2002, Mr. Galnares received a voicemail message left on his mobile phone. The recording consisted of a gun being cocked.

Mr. Galnares has been working on politically sensitive cases, including several torture cases and possible disappearance cases for ACAT.

LRWC is gravely concerned for the safety of Mr. Galnares, especially in light of past harassment and violence conducted against human rights protectors in Mexico. The personal safety of these Mexican human rights defenders is often put in jeopardy, while action is rarely taken to prevent violence or bring perpetrators to justice. A disturbing example of Mexico’s failure to protect human rights defenders is the death of Digna Ochoa, a prominent human rights lawyer, who was shot dead in her office in October 2001. This killing occurred despite numerous events clearly indicating Ms. Ochoa’s danger, and pleas by Ms. Ochoa and international organizations to authorities regarding her protection, and orders issued by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Even now, her murder remains unaccounted for.

LRWC calls for an immediate and thorough investigation into the threats, intimidation and illegal surveillance of Mr. Galnares, for the results obtained to be made public, and for those responsible to be brought to justice. LRWC also calls upon the government of Mexico to take swift and effective action to ensure the security of all human rights defenders so they can continue to carry out their legitimate and important work defending human rights.

Failure to protect and investigate violations of the rights of Arturo Requenses Galnares and other human rights workers constitutes an egregious breach of Mexico’s duties under binding international laws and principles including those set out in the United Nations (UN) Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Institutions to Promote and Protect Universally Recognised Human Rights and Fundamental Liberties, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Mexico is a signatory and other UN declarations including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Mexico’s duties to guarantee the physical safety of these people and to investigate and punish violations also arise from membership in the Organization of American States (OAS) and the provisions of the American Convention on Human Rights.

Please advise LRWC by mail, e-mail or fax of the actions that the government of Argentina is taking to:
1. ensure the present and future safety of Arturo Requenses Galnares and;
2. investigate the death threats against these human rights defenders with the goal of identifying the person(s) responsible and bringing them to trial.

LRWC awaits your response. Thank you for your attention to our concerns.