Yesica Sánchez Maya (f), lawyer and human rights defender

Re: Yesica Sánchez Maya (f), lawyer and human rights defender; Aline Castellanos Jurado (f), human rights defender

To: President of Mexico government and others

From: Monique Pongracic-Speier, LRWC Mexico monitor

Date: 2007-05-09

I write to express LRWC’s continued serious concern about Ms. Sánchez and Ms. Castellanos; LRWC previously wrote to Mexican authorities (including Minister of the Interior Ramirez Acuña) about the situation of these women on December 15, 2006.

LRWC is deeply concerned by continued state action against Ms. Sánchez and Ms. Castellanos and by a recent burglary at Ms. Castellanos’s home.

To summarize, Ms. Sánchez, a lawyer, is associated with the Liga Mexicana para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos. Ms. Castellanos is a leading member of the Consorcio para el Diálogo Parlamentario y la Equidad. Both women have been documenting and publicising human rights violations in Oaxaca since June 2006.

Ms. Sánchez has had an arrest warrant pending against her since autumn 2006. There have been three warrants issued for the arrest of Ms. Castellanos; while the first two warrants were annulled by federal injunctions, the third is pending. LRWC remains concerned about the appropriateness of the charges underlying the warrants; they appear to be ill-defined and baseless. We urge you to cause an investigation into the approval of the charges and warrants to determine whether they involve any abuse of prosecutorial or judicial office.

The pending warrant for the arrest of Ms. Castellanos was issued on April 27, 2007. On April 28, 2007, Ms. Castellanos’s home was burgled. Only Ms. Castellanos’s passport and some cash were stolen, while other valuables were left untouched. Given the circumstances and timing of the burglary, LRWC is concerned that the break-in may not have been a random crime. We urge the responsible authorities to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the burglary, and to bring the perpetrators to justice.

LRWC also remains concerned about Ms. Sánchez’s and Ms. Castellanos’s safety, should they actually be arrested. The widespread reports of abuse and torture of those jailed in Oaxaca since June 2006 are alarming. LRWC calls upon to you ensure that Ms. Sánchez and Ms. Castellanos will not be subject to any ill-treatment, if taken into custody.

LRWC respectfully reminds you that national and international law places duties on Mexico and all of its states to ensure the safety and independence of human rights defenders. 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 is also mindful of the international community’s commitment to protecting the vital role of human rights defenders and lawyers, wherever they may live or work. This commitment is embodied in instruments such as 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 United Nations 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 urge the Governments of Mexico and Oaxaca to respond to the probable false charges against Ms. Sánchez and Ms. Castellanos in a manner consistent with the principles expressed in the instruments named here.

In conclusion, kindly advise LRWC of the steps that you are taking in response to the matters raised in this letter.