Erica Serrano Farías – Lawyer

Re: Erica Serrano Farías – Lawyer

To: Lic. Zeferino Torreblanca Galindo, Gobernador Electo del Estado de Guerrero and others

From: Monique Pongracic-Speier, LRWC Mexico Monitor

Date: 2006-03-13

LRWC writes to express serious concern for the safety of Erica Serrano Farías and her family.

Ms. Serrano is a lawyer from Zihuatanejo whose clients include Red de Organizaciones Ambientalistas de Zihuatanejo (“ROGAZ”). Ms. Serrano represents ROGAZ in its opposition to construction of a tourist development, Marina Puerto Mío, in the Bay of Zihuatanejo, Guerrero.

LRWC understands that on February 23, 2006, Ms. Serrano was arguing ROGAZ’s case before Latin American Water Tribunal in Mexico City. While Ms. Serrano was away, a hand grenade was found outside her family’s restaurant in Zihuatanejo. Ms. Serrano’s family reported the grenade to the municipal police, who were apparently reluctant to remove it. LRWC understands that the Director de Seguridad Pública later told Ms. Serrano and others that the grenade was “for the exclusive use of the army” but was harmless because the detonator had been removed. Further, the Director suggested that grenade might have been washed ashore by the tide (despite the fact that the grenade was found well above the high tide line), or that it had been left there to frighten Ms. Serrano.

The municipal police did not open an investigation into the finding of the grenade until Ms. Serrano filed a complaint with the Ministerio Público Federal.

LRWC is deeply concerned that the grenade was intentionally placed outside the Serrano family’s restaurant, either to intimidate Ms. Serrano, or as a warning that Ms. Serrano should stop representing ROGAZ to avoid dire consequences.

LRWC respectfully reminds the State of Guerrero and the Government of Mexico of their legal obligations in the face of human rights abuses, such as intimidation of lawyers representing clients. National and international law places a duty on Mexico’s state and federal government bodies to investigate suspected human rights violations and provide effective remedies where those violations are proven. These duties flow from Mexico’s treaty obligations under the American Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, among other instruments.

LRWC is mindful that Article 133 of the Mexican Constitution provides that international treaties ratified by Mexico prevail as the supreme law of the country.

LRWC is also mindful of the international community’s expressions of commitment to protecting the integrity of the rule of law, justice and the role of lawyers in the Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power (adopted by General Assembly Resolution 40/34, 29 November 1985) and the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, the Eighth UN Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (adopted at Havana, 27 August to 7 September 1990). Mexico is a valued member of the international community of nations. We therefore urge Guerrero and Mexico to treat the incident of the grenade in front of Ms. Serrano’s family restaurant in a serious manner and consistent with the principles expressed in the above-named declarations.

In particular, LRWC calls upon you to promptly initiate a full and impartial investigation into the grenade incident. We urge you to publish the investigation’s findings and to bring those responsible to justice. We also call upon the authorities to protect Ms. Serrano from intimidation, in accordance with her own wishes.
In conclusion, kindly advise LRWC of the steps that you are taking in response to the matters raised in this letter. Your early written response is appreciated.