Manuel Gomez Hernandez

Re: Manuel Gomez Hernandez

To: Governor, Attorney General

From: Monique Pongracic-Speier

Date: 2006-07-27

I write to express LRWC’s serious concern about the safety of Mr. Gómez, and the disturbing circumstances of threats against him.

Mr. Gómez, a person of Tsotsil origin, works as a counsellor/advisor for the human rights organisation Centro de drechos humanos Fray Bartolome de las Casas in San Cristobal de las Casas.

LRWC understands that at approximately 9:00 pm on July 17th, Mr. Gómez was at home in San Cristobal de las Casas when he received a telephone call. A man’s voice told him, “Manuel, te anticipo que no te metas en el problema de Zinacantán, ese problema es familiar, si tu te metes te llevará la ‘chingada’.” When Mr. Gómez told the caller he did not know what the caller was talking about, the caller reportedly said, “sabemos que eres representante de allí, cuando queramos chingarte es fácil, cuídate.” The caller reportedly further said that his name was “Germán” and that he was a judge in the municipality of Zinacantán.

LRWC is extremely disturbed by the existence of the threat against Mr. Gómez and the fact that it appears to have made by a member of the judiciary. We query whether the threat is linked to Mr. Gómez’s work for the Centro de drechos humanos Fray Bartolome de las Casas. LRWC is aware that Mr. Gómez has been intimidated and physically attacked in connection with his human rights work in the past.

LRWC calls on you to initiate a prompt, impartial and thorough investigation of the threat against Mr. Gómez, and to release the results to the public. It is also imperative that the person or persons responsible for the threat to Mr. Gómez should be brought to justice.

LRWC further urges you to offer Mr. Gómez protection in accordance with his wishes, and to ensure that he does not suffer further intimidation as a result of his work as a human rights advocate.

LRWC respectfully reminds you that national and international law places twin duties on Mexico and its states to (1) ensure the safety and independence of human rights defenders, 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 in 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. We urge you to act in accordance with the values expressed in the Declaration.

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.