Mexican Indigenous Rights Leader Finally Released!

September 1, 2010

Last month, we asked you to take action for Mexican inidgenous human rights defender Raúl Hernández.  We are thrilled to report that after two years in Guerrero state prison on fabricated  charges Raúl was finally released!  A big thank you to all who took action!

We are now calling for an investigation into his unfounded prosecution and for him to be fully compensated for his unfair imprisonment.

Amnesty has been advocating on behalf of Raúl since 2008 when he was arrested and accused of the murder of Alejandro Feliciano García. However, eyewitness statements demonstrating that Raúl Hernández was not present when the murder took place were not taken into account.

Later, during evidential proceedings, the state court judge carried out a crime scene inspection which confirmed that evidence by witnesses who claimed that Raúl Hernández was present during the murder were baseless.

We believe the case against Raúl Hernández was a reprisal by local authorities for his legitimate activities promoting indigenous rights with the Me’phaa Indigenous peoples’ Organization (Organización del Pueblo Indígena Me’phaa ,OPIM) and for highlighting abuses committed by local caciques (political bosses), military personnel and authorities.

Mexican authorities have frequently manipulated the justice system to punish those people who promote respect for the rights of marginalized communities and raise their voices to demand their rights. The unfair and prolonged detention of Raúl Hernandez is emblematic of the systematic persecution of members of the OPIM in Guerrero state and the regular threats and attacks suffered by human rights defenders in Mexico.

We are urging the Mexican government to develop an effective protection program for human rights defenders. The case of Raúl Hernández illustrates the vulnerability of human rights defenders in Mexico. Not only are they victims of unlawful detentions and imprisonment on unfounded charges, but they also face harassment, intimidation, threats and even killings.