Samuel Alfonso Castellanos Pinon; Beatriz Casas Arellanes; and others

Re: Samuel Alfonso Castellanos Pinon; Beatriz Casas Arellanes; and others

To: Lic. Jose Murat Casab, Gobernador del Estado de Oaxaca

From: Dr. Brian Donovan

Date: 2003-03-09

I write as a member of Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, a committee of Canadian lawyers whose mandate is to monitor the situations of, and provide international support for, lawyers who find themselves in danger due to their activities as advocates against human rights violations and abuses, and promoting the domestic enforcement of internationally recognized human rights standards. We are most concerned for the safety of Samuel Alfonso Castellanos Pinon and Beatriz Casas Arellanes, lawyers for Accion de los Christianos para la Abolicion de la Tortura (ACAT), as well as Carlos Cruz Mozo and Inocencio Lopez Michel, members of the Organizacion Idigena de Derechos Humanos de Oaxaca (OIDHO).

It is reported that on March 1, 2003, Samuel Alfonso Castellanos Pinon and Beatriz Cassas Arellanes received an anonymous death threat at ACAT headquarters. The letter stated that Mr. Castellanos would be killed if he did not stop acting as a defence lawyer for persons charged in relation to the Agua Fria murders committed in 2002. The letter also contained threats against Carlos Cruz Moros and Inocencio Lopez Michel.

On the evening of the same day, Mr. Castellanos was openly followed by unidentified men who overtly indicated that they were armed with firearms. We understand that these acts of intimidation have been reported to the Procuraduria General de Justicia del Estado and the Commission Estatal de Derechos Humanos.

We are most concerned by what appears to be an emerging pattern of death threats and intimidation surrounding these lawyers’ legitimate representation of persons detained in connection with the Agua Fria murders. It is reported that at least 26 individuals were arrested and that many of not all of them were subjected to torture and other ill-treatment in order to extract confessions. The threats against Mr. Castellanos, Ms. Arellanes and members of OIDHO would appear to be a form of retaliation for their effective representation of these individuals and exposure of their allegations of torture by the authorities.

We respectfully suggest that your government is obliged, both under its domestic laws and its international obligations, to investigate and put an end to this emerging pattern of intimidation and death threats. We draw your attention to the Declaration of the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on March 8, 1999. In particular, we direct your attention to the following Articles of the Declaration:
Article 1
Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels.

Article 9, paragraph 5
The State shall conduct a prompt and impartial investigation or ensure that an inquiry takes place whenever there is a reasonable ground to believe that a violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms has occurred in any territory under its jurisdiction.
Article 12, paragraph 2
The State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.

The receipt of written death threats, followed by public physical intimidation by armed individuals, requires immediate and thorough investigation by the competent authorities in your jurisdiction, and Mr. Castellanos, Ms. Arellanes and members of ACAT and the OIDHO require effective protection from those elements which seek to silence them. We respectfully call upon you to use the influence of your office to ensure their safety and bring this pattern of threats and intimidation to an end. The courtesy of your reply would be appreciated.