Ernesto Ledesma Arronte, Director of CAPISE

Re: Ernesto Ledesma Arronte, Director of Centro de Análisis Político e Investigaciones Sociales y Económicas (CAPISE)

To: Lic. Pablo Salazar Mendiguchía, Gobernador del Estado de Chiapas and others

From: Monique Pongracic-Speier, LRWC Mexico Monitor

Date: 2006-03-13

I write to express LRWC’s serious concern about the safety of Mr. Ledesma.

Mr. Ledesma is a founding member of the human rights organisation Centro de Análisis Político e Investigaciones Sociales y Económicas. On February 26, 2006, Mr. Ledesma reportedly returned home to San Cristobal de las Casas after an absence of several days, due to a work trip. Upon entering his home, Mr. Ledesma discovered that it had been broken into, but not burglarized. Instead, work-related documents were scattered about his living room and personal letters and family photographs were carefully laid out on his bed. LRWC understands that Mr. Ledesma has filed a complaint with the Sub-fiscalía Especial Regional Zona Altos regarding the break-in.

LRWC notes that Mr. Ledesma suffered death threats and disturbing break-ins in 2003. LRWC Executive Director Gail Davidson wrote to the Governor, Attorney General and Minister of the Interior about these matters in 2003, but received no response.

As in 2003, LRWC is concerned that the February 2006 break-in is intended to intimidate Mr. Ledesma and prevent him from continuing his human rights and political advocacy. We note that, recently, Mr. Ledesma has been involved in La Otra Campaña in Chiapas. Other human rights activists involved in La Otra Campaña appear to have suffered harassment due to their activities. These include Dámaso Villaneuva Ramírez of the Comité Ciudadano para la Defensa Popular, and trade unionist Mario Alvarado Rodríguez. The former was detained on February 24, 2006 while distributing information about La Otra Campaña, while the latter was subject to an attempt to reactivate a stale arrest warrant from 2004 by landowner opponents of La Otra Campaña.

LRWC respectfully reminds you that national and international law places twin duties on government actors in Mexico to (1) ensure the safety and independence of human rights defenders (among whose ranks we count Mr. Ledesma and the other persons noted in this letter), and (2) 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 also draws to your attention the expectations for treatment of human rights defenders articulated in the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (1998) (the “Declaration”). The Declaration expresses the international community’s consensus that human rights defenders have a right to carry out their activities without restriction or fear of reprisal and Mexico has a duty to take measures to effectively protect those rights. We urge you to act in accordance with the values expressed in the Declaration.

In accordance with Mexican law, and international law and policy, we urge you to ensure a prompt, impartial and thorough investigation of the break-in at Mr. Ledesma’s home. LRWC strongly encourages you to publish the findings of the investigation and bring the perpetrator(s) to justice. LRWC also calls upon you to guarantee Mr. Ledesma’s safety and that of his family, by instituting such protective measures as are warranted and in accordance with Mr. Ledesma’s 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