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

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

To: Mr. President, Mr. Minister and Madam Attorney General

From: Monique Pongracic-Speier – LRWC Mexico Monitor

Date: 2006-12-15

I write to express LRWC’s serious concern about the situations of Ms. Sánchez and Ms. Castellanos.

Ms. Sánchez 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 publicizing human rights violations that have taken place since widespread protest activity began in Oaxaca in June 2006.

LRWC understands that both women are now facing arrest on charges that appear to be ill-defined and baseless. More particularly, we understand that a judge in Etla issued a warrant for the arrest of at least one of the women on charges relating to the occupation of the Corporación Oaxaqueña de Radio y Televisión by protestors from August to November 2006. We do not know the exact nature of the charges. We also do not know which of the women is the subject of the warrant, nor whether the other is charged with the same offence(s). However, we are advised that both Ms. Sánchez and Ms. Castellanos categorically deny involvement in any criminal activity. We are not aware of any evidence that would tend to impeach the truthfulness of their denials.

LRWC is deeply concerned that the charges against Ms. Sánchez and Ms. Castellanos are motivated by a desire to silence their criticism of the state government and its treatment of protestors. Such a motive would not only be improper vis-à-vis Ms. Sánchez and Ms. Castellanos, but would also constitute an abuse of the judicial system. We urge you to investigate the circumstances of the charges against the women and to earnestly pursue and expose any misuse of the judicial system for political ends.

LRWC is also deeply concerned about Ms. Sánchez’s and Ms. Castellanos’s safety, if arrested. The widespread reports of abuse and torture of those jailed in Oaxaca since the start of protests are alarming. LRWC calls upon to you ensure that, if arrested, Ms. Sánchez and Ms. Castellanos will not be subject to any ill-treatment.

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 your government is taking to:

1. ensure a proper investigation of the circumstances of the charges against the women and expose and remedy any misuse of the judicial system for political ends.; and,
2. ensure special protection measure will be put in place for Ms. Sánchez and Ms. Castellanos; and,
3. ensure that Ms. Sánchez and Ms. Castellanos will not be subjected to any ill-treatment by authorities.

Your early written response is appreciated.