Amnesty International Press Statement
For Immediate Release:
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Amnesty International Welcomes Release of Raúl Hernández
Contact: Wende Gozan Brown at 212-633-4247, [email protected].
(London) – Amnesty International (AI) welcomes the release of prisoner of conscience Raúl Hernández, who was imprisoned for more than two years in Guerrero state on fabricated criminal charges. Following his recent acquittal by a Guerrero state court judge, the organization is calling for an investigation into his unfounded prosecution and for him to be fully compensated for his unfair imprisonment.
Raúl Hernández was arrested and accused of the murder of Alejandro Feliciano García on January 1, 2008, in the community of El Camalote, Guerrero state. 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.
AI believes that 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.
AI campaigned for Hernández’s freedom since November 2009, when the organization adopted him as a prisoner of conscience. Thousands of activists around the world took action on his behalf, including writing letters to the Mexican government and sending an SMS of support to Hernández. Several AI sections, including Amnesty International USA (AIUSA), wrote to President Calderon expressing concern for Hernández and for the safety of human rights defenders in Mexico. AIUSA also conducted meetings on Capitol Hill on his behalf.
The 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.
AI urges 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.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.8 million supporters, activists and volunteers who campaign for universal human rights from more than 150 countries. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.
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