Mexico: Murder of Five Lawyers in Ciudad Juárez | Letter

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Marco Gloria Ruvalcaba, lawyer

LRWC sent a letter in November to the Mexico Minister of the Interior and the Governor of Chihuahua State regarding the reported murder of five lawyers in Ciudad Juarez namely: Marco Gloria Ruvalcaba, killed on 3 October 2019; Mario Azael Zamora Garnica, killed on 16 September 2019; Ernesto Ortega Martinez, killed on 25 July 2019; Rogelio Martinez, killed on 20 June 2019; and, Luis Alejandro Puentes Gonzalez, killed on 6 June 2019. The Deputy Director of Investigations and Case Management has replied to the communication stating only that the cases have been sent to the Unit of Reception of Cases and Rapid Reaction of the Mechanism of Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists, under no. UDDH/911/DGAIAC/1558/2019. LRWC is asking for further action.

29 November 2019

Minister of the Interior:
Olga Sánchez Cordero
Secretaría de Gobernación
Bucareli 99, Col. Juárez
Del. Cuauhtémoc, C.P. 06600
Ciudad de México, México

Governor of Chihuahua State:
Javier Corral Jurado
Edificio Palacio de Gobierno
Piso 1 Calle Aldama 901
Zona Centro, C.P. 31000
Chihuahua, Chihuahua, México

Dear Minister Olga Sánchez Cordero and Governor Javier Corral Jurado

Re: Murder of five lawyers in Ciudad Juárez

Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) is gravely concerned by the assassinations of lawyers in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua and the failure of the Government of Mexico to prevent or punish such lethal attacks in accordance with Mexico’s international law obligations.

The reports referenced below indicate that since June 2019, five lawyers have been killed in Ciudad Juárez:

  • Marco Gloria Ruvalcaba – killed on 3 October 2019[1]
    • Shot to death (13 wound shots) outside of a Soriana supermarket – in Av. Independencia and Av. Zaragoza
    • It is believed that the murder is linked to his field of work, no concrete connection has been made in the investigation
  • Mario Azael Zamora Garnica – killed on 16 September 2019[2]
    • Mr. Zamora was reported missing on September 12th, found dead in the Highway Camino Real
    • The DA informed that the homicide is not linked to the legal work field
  • Ernesto Ortega Martinez – killed on 25 July 2019[3]
    • Colleagues claim his death is linked to the legal work field
    • His body was found in a clandestine pit in Colony Plazuela de Acuna
    • The body was burnt and exhumed
  • Rogelio Martinez – killed on 20 June 2019[4]
    • Shot and killed inside his home office, in the streets of Del Ejido, and Plutarco Elias Calles
    • His wife is the judge for Control District Judicial Bravos, Brisa Yadira Meraz Mendoza
  • Luis Alejandro Puentes Gonzalez – killed on 6 June 2019[5]
    • Killed in a mall’s parking lot, near Av. Ejercito Nacional and Tecnologico
    • The authorities avoided giving any detail of evidence

LRWC has not been able to confirm these reports There is no accessible information regarding murder investigations.

International Law Obligations

As a member of the United Nations (UN) and the Organization of American States (OAS), Mexico has agreed to respect the rights to life guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man (ADRDM). As a State Party to the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) [6] and the American Convention on Human Rights (ACHR),[7] Mexico has accepted the twin legal obligations imposed by those treaties to protect the right to life of all persons within its territory and to prevent, punish and remedy violations. These twin duties are affirmed by the UN Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (Declaration on Human Rights Defenders),[8] the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers,[9] the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms,[10] and the Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-Legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions.[11]

The duty to conduct effective investigations that result in the identification and punishment of those responsible for violations is a key component of the State duty to protect the right to life. The State’s duty to investigate and prosecute serious human rights violations arises from the obligation to protect and guarantee the rights to judicial guarantees and judicial protection under Articles 1(1), 8, and 25 of the ACHR. The failure to fulfill these obligations results in impunity, defined as “the overall lack of investigation, tracking down, capture, prosecution and conviction of those responsible for those responsible for violating” ACHR-protected rights.[12]

The UN Human Rights Committee has noted that impunity may be “an important contributing element in the recurrence of … violations,” and has emphasized that the State obligation to provide an effective remedy pursuant to Article 2(3) of the ICCPR may in appropriate cases require guarantees of non-repetition and changes in relevant laws and practices.[13]  The jurisprudence of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) has a particular emphasis on non-repetition as a remedy directed to society as a whole, including legislative and other measures towards the transformation of cultures and institutions.[14]

IACtHR has observed, “[w]hen the right to life is not respected, all the other rights lack meaning.”[15] The duty to investigate is essential to protect the right to life,[16] which is a non-derogable, jus cogens norm protected by “international and regional treaties, customary international law, and by domestic legal systems globally.”[17]

The “Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers” (a consensus resolution of the UN General Assembly, codified in 1990) requires all States to guarantee the right of independence and safety of lawyers and protects them from interference by the State authorities and other actors. In the subsection of “Duties and Responsibilities” in the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers clearly states in the Articles;

12) Lawyers shall at all times maintain the honour and dignity of their profession as essential agents of the administration of justice;

16) Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; (b) are able to travel and to consult with their clients freely both within their own country and abroad; and (c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics; and,

17) Where the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities.

LRWC  requests  that  Mexico  comply  with  its  international  law  obligations  and  ensure  the following measures:

  1. Effective protective  measures  for  each  lawyer  who  may  be  at  risk  in  the  State  of Chihuahua;
  2. Investigations of  extra-judicial   killing  of   Mario   Zamora,   Ernesto   Ortega,   Luis Puentes, Rogelio Martinez, and Marco Ruvalcaba, that result in the identification of all suspects and the collection and preservation of evidence necessary for trials; and,
  3. prosecutions and trial to determine perpetrators and the appropriate punishments.

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

Gail Davidson, Executive Director, LRWC

Copied to:

González Pérez Luis Raúl Mtro.
President, Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos
Periférico Sur 3469
Col. San Jeronimo Lidice
Alcaldía Magdalena Contreras, C.P. 10200
Cuidad de México

Mr. Michel Forst
Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders

Mr. Diego Garcia-Sayan
Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers

Ms. Agnes Callamard
Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions

Mr. David Kaye
Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of expression

Commissioner Francisco Jose, Eguiguran Prael,
Rapporteurship on Human Rights Defenders

LRWC is a committee of lawyers and other human rights defenders who promote international human rights, the rule of law and the integrity of legal systems around the world through advocacy, legal research and education. LRWC has Special Consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

[1] Mario Gloria Ruvalcaba: Staff El Diario, Abogados, en la mira del crimen, 09/07/2019,, date accessed 05/11/2019. Staff El Diario de Chihuahua, Citaron a abogado para ejecutarlo, 05/10/2019,, date accessed 05/11/2019.

[2] Mario Azael Zamora Garnica: Miguel Vargas (El Diario), Homicidio de abogado no fue por su trabajo: FGE, 18/09/2019,, date accessed 05/11/2019.

[3] Ernesto Ortega Martinez: Staff El Diario, Despiden familiares a abogado asesinado, 28/07/2019,, date accessed 05/11/2019. Hector Tovar (El Mexicano), Abogado Ernesto Ortega fue encontrado sin vida, 29/07/2019,, date accessed 05/11/2019.

[4] Rogelio Martinez: Staff El Diario, Abogado y esposo de jueza, hombre ejecutado dentro de su casa, 20/06/2019,, date accessed 05/11/2019. Staff El Diario, Asesinan a abogado, esposo de jueza, 21/06/2019,, date accessed 05/11/2019.

[5] Luis Alejandro Puentes Gonzalez: Staff El Diario, Abogados, en la mira del crimen, 09/07/2019,, date accessed 05/11/2019. Staff El Diario, Identifican a abogado asesinado el pasado miercoles, 08/07/2019,, date accessed 05/11/2019.

[6] UN General Assembly, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 16 December 1966, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 999, p 171.

[7] Organization of American States (OAS), American Convention on Human Rights, “Pact of San Jose”, Costa Rica, 22 November 1969, available at:

[8] Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Adopted at the 85th plenary meeting 9 December 1998 and adopted by the U.N. General Assembly 8 March 1999 A/RES/53/144.  Article 9.5 specifically requires States to “conduct a prompt and impartial investigation or ensure that an inquiry takes place whenever there is reasonable ground to believe that a violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms has occurred…”

[9] Adopted by the 8th United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, Havana 27 August to 7 September 1990. U.N. Doc. A/CONF. 144/28/Rev. 1 at 188. (1990).

[10] Council of Europe, European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, as amended by Protocols Nos. 11 and 14, 4 November 1950, ETS 5.

[11] Adopted on 24 May 1989 by the Economic and Social Council Resolution 1989/65.

[12] IACtHR, Case of Ivcher Bronstein v Peru, Judgment of February 6, 2001. Series C No.74, para. 186.

[13] Human Rights Committee, General Comment No. 31 on Article 2 of the Covenant: The Nature of the General Legal Obligation Imposed on States Parties to the Covenant, UN Doc. CCPR/C/74/CRP.4/Rev.6, 21 April 2004, para 16, 18, available at:

[14] See the jurisprudence cited in H. Sofía Galván Puente, “Legislative measures as guarantees of non-repetition: a reality in the Inter-American Court, and a possible solution for the European Court,” Revista IIDH. 49(2009): 69-106, available at:

[15]  IACtHR, Case of Myrna Mack-Chang v. Guatemala. Judgment of November 25, 2003. Series C No. 101, para. 152.

[16] Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR), Montero-Aranguren et al. (Detention Center of Catia) v. Venezuela, Judgment, 5 July 2006, para 63-66, available at:

[17] Report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, The Minnesota Protocol on the Investigation of Potentially Unlawful Deaths: The Revised United Nations Manual on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions, A/HRC/32/39/Add.4, xx June 2016, available at: