Press release and analysis of the hearing in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on the first case brought before the Court in relation to provisional measures for military abuses committed in the context of the war against drugs of Calderon’s administration.
· NGOs bring evidence before this superior human rights court in relation to the failure of the Mexican State to protect and provide security for victims´ families and organizations.
· The Mexican State requests the Court to carry out the hearing in private and is incapable of explaining its serious omissions before the Court.
Yesterday, 28 June 2011, the Inter American Court of Human Rights held two public hearings in Costa Rica in which the failure of the Mexican State to protect the life of human rights defenders was analyzed, despite the fact that the Court has requested Mexico to implement protection measures in favor of certain families and victims at serious risk.
The international complaint of enforced disappearance of Nitza, Rocío and José Alvarado, was presented with the litigation of Justice for our Daughters, the Commission for Solidarity and Human Rights (COSYDDHAC) the Center for Women´s Human Rights (CEDEHM) and the Center for Human Rights Paso del Norte. The office of this last mentioned organization was illegally invaded just a few days before the hearing, when federal policemen stormed the premises without any warrant and inexplicably started to cause damage to this Ciudad Juárez-based organization´s workspace. The organizations are unaware if any policemen have been punished for these criminal acts that were duly denounced before the relevant authorities and the media, which in turn even published the number of the police patrols that participated in this illegal forced entry.
Prior to the hearing in the Inter-American Court, within the framework of the meeting between victims and President Felipe Calderón, the Minister of the Interior, Francisco Blake, publicly declared that this Ministry “was implementing mechanisms for the protection of human rights and journalists”. The reality is that these mechanisms are inexistent or ineffective. Various human rights defenders and journalists have been killed in recent years. None of them have had protection, despite having specifically requested it from the Ministry of the Interior. One example is that of Marisela Escobedo who had even presented herself in person to ask for protection just a few weeks before she was killed, only to have protection denied.
The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights as well as Amnesty International have, through their public reports, expressed concern for the persistence of threats and killings of human rights defenders and for the impunity that invariably accompanies these deaths in Mexico.
Despite the recent announcements of the Ministry of the Interior, the cases on Mexico analyzed by the Inter-American Court this year have both been in relation to the lack of guarantees and security for human rights defenders and lack of protection provided by the Mexican State.
The announcement of this hearing held in the Court was made known to the President directly by Norma Ledezma, coordinator of Justice for our Daughters, in the most recent meeting between victims and the Presidential cabinet in which she was a speaker.
The hearing of the Inter-American Court in relation to the detention and enforced disappearance at the hands of the Mexican Army of Nitza, Rocío and José Alvarado in the state of Chihuahua is relevant because it is the first case that this superior human rights court has taken on for provisional measures in relation to military abuses committed during the administration of Calderón.
The international court analyzed the constant refusal of the Mexican State to investigate the actions of the Army in relation to enforced disappearances; the persistent use of military jurisdiction; the lack of effective actions to locate the family; the inexplicable transfer of investigation files to the Prosecutor of Human Trafficking of the State Attorney´s Office and the Federal Special Prosecutor on Human Trafficking of the Federal Attorney General, despite not having the competence to investigate this case; and the refusal to provide protection and security to the family members of Nitza, Rocío and José and the accompanying organizations that have been threatened.
Emilia González, of the COSYDDHAC Human Rights Center, who as a consequence of the complaints filed, has been intimidated by armed soldiers who last year arrived at her residence to summon her presence in the military barracks, noted in Costa Rica: “It is concerning to see the attitude taken on by the Mexican State that feigns implementation, when in fact it is not providing protection. There is not one single measure, not even a proposal for protection or security, despite the risk that has increased for these victims”.
Lucha Castro, coordinator of the CEDEH Human Rights Center and lawyer for Justice for our Daughters, testified before the Inter American Court that the military occupation and the deployment of Federal Police in the state of Chihuahua has significantly increased the abuses committed against citizens. She finished her presentation by saying that in this case “the existence of investigations in three different jurisdictions: in military jurisdiction, in state jurisdiction and in federal jurisdiction, is a clear tactic used to impede advances in investigations and shows the ability of the State to confuse, complicate and simulate investigations that meanwhile go beyond their mandate”.
In the case of the young persons Nitza, Rocío and their cousin José, this is only one of 1017 that the citizenry has denounced in 14 months between 2009 and 2010 - according to official figures – against agents involved in the Joint Chihuahua Operation in Ciudad Juárez. No agent from the police or the military has been punished for any of these more than a thousand abuses registered.
The Mexican State has on previous occasions tried to excuse itself before international courts, arguing that human rights violations are a thing of the past that pertained to a once-authoritarian regime, yet that in the present day human rights are respected in Mexico.
Nevertheless, this disappearance of two young women – one of them a mother – and one young man, took place in December of 2009, in the state of Chihuahua. The Mexican State has refused to investigate the Mexican Army and has not provided protection or security to the family that has received direct death threats for having demanded justice. In addition, they have received unknown phonecalls that threatened them for speaking too much and told them that they had 24 hours to leave Ciudad Juárez; otherwise all of them would be killed.
The protection given to the soldiers that disappeared the Alvarado family and the total omission in relation to the protection of those people with provisional measures in their favor, as well as the lack of investigation of the threats against them, are all things that the Mexican officials were not able to explain to the Court. On this occasion, the Government was not able to use the excuse that these things “were of the past”.
The Mexican State insisted in carrying out the hearing in private; however the petitioners and family members of the victims considered that a public hearing was a principle factor for ensuring accountability and promoting transparency and justice. What does the Mexican State want to hide?
Centro de Derechos Humanos de las Mujeres A. C. +52 (614) 415-41-52.www.cedehm.org.mx,
Justicia para Nuestras Hijas A. C. Tel. +52 (614) 413-33-55 www.justiciaparanuestrashijas.org