Annual Report: Mexico 2011

May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Mexico 2011

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  • In June, two journalists - Juan Francisco Rodríguez Ríos and his wife, María Elvira Hernández Galeana - were shot and killed in Coyuca de Benítez, Guerrero state. He was a trade union representative and had called for an end to impunity for those responsible for attacks on journalists. There were no advances in the investigation into the couple's killing by the end of the year.

Human rights defenders

Human rights defenders in many parts of the country were attacked and harassed. Despite government commitments to respect their work and guarantee their safety, some government officials made statements questioning the legitimacy of some defenders and official protection measures were often poorly applied. A protection programme and new procedures for investigations into attacks against defenders had not been finalized by the end of the year.

  • In August, after intense national and international campaigning, Indigenous rights activist and prisoner of conscience Raúl Hernández was acquitted and was released from jail in Guerrero state. He had spent more than two years in custody on fabricated murder charges. After his release, he and other members of the Me'phaa Indigenous People's Organization faced threats and intimidation.
  • In April, two human rights defenders, Alberta Cariño and Jyri Antero Jaakkola, a Finnish citizen, were shot and killed by armed men belonging to the Social Welfare Union of the Triqui region (Unión del Bienestar Social de la Región Triqui, UBISORT), linked to the then Oaxaca state government. The two defenders were participating in a humanitarian convoy to take food, water and medical supplies to the Indigenous Triqui community of San Juan Copala, which was under siege by UBISORT and another armed group. Those responsible for the shooting remained at large at the end of the year.

Unfair trials

The criminal justice system often fell short of international fair trial standards, facilitating politically motivated prosecutions, unsound convictions and the widespread use of pre-charge detention orders (arraigo). In those cases where national and international attention highlighted injustices, federal legal remedies sometimes secured releases. However, those responsible for the misuse of the criminal justice system were not held to account.

  • In June, the SCJN ordered the release of 12 activists of the Peoples' Front for the Defence of Land in San Salvador Atenco, Mexico state, after concluding that their conviction for kidnapping was unsound. No official has been held to account for the torture and other ill-treatment of more than 200 detainees, including sexual assault of women prisoners, during the police operation which resulted in their detention.
  • In June, prisoners of conscience Sara López, Joaquín Aguilar and Guadalupe Borja were released on bail after a federal review court reduced the charges against them. In December, they were convicted of a lesser charge but not imprisoned. An appeal was pending at the end of the year. The three community leaders had been detained in July 2009 and falsely accused of kidnapping officials during protests against high electricity bills in the community of Candelaria, Campeche state.

Violence against women and girls, and sexual and reproductive rights

Violence against women remained widespread. Hundreds of women were killed in the home and community during the year. Legislative measures introduced in recent years to improve protection were often not applied in practice or were ineffective in protecting women or ensuring perpetrators were held to account.