Atenco women’s case will finally reach the Court

Patricia Torres, Ana María Velasco, Claudia Hernández, Yolanda Núñez, Italia Méndez, Norma Jiménez, Stephanie Brewer and Araceli Olivos during the press conference held at the Centro Pro. Photo: Jesús Villaseca

Patricia Torres, Ana María Velasco, Claudia Hernández, Yolanda Núñez, Italia Méndez, Norma Jiménez, Stephanie Brewer and Araceli Olivos during the press conference held at the Centro Pro. Photo: Jesús Villaseca

By: José Antonio Román

The Mexican government not only lied when it asserted that it was the one that proposed taking the case of the Atenco women to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (Coridh, its initials in Spanish), but that it also “surprisingly advanced” to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) making this decision public.

This case, which arrives at the Coridh after 10 years of impunity in the country, could represent the eighth sentence against the Mexican State, in which 11 women of San Salvador Atenco denounced sexual torture and other human rights violations by state of Mexico police and federal police in May 2006.

Stephanie Erin Brewer, lawyer for the victims and coordinator of the Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Center’s international area, explained that it was “very strange” to find out about the federal government taking the case to the Court rather than the IACHR taking it, as regularly happens in these cases.

But she also clarified that the State not only didn’t ask to send the case to the court, but rather “did everything possible to delay it, and avoid the case reaching that body,” as it has neither had reparation measures for the victims nor funds nor help actions, which have been repeatedly rejected.

‘‘There’s no dialogue either, as the government says. That dialogue is broken because of the repeated lack of fulfillment, the lack of advance and the absence of a showing of the will to reach a conclusion. No dialogue is underway: what is underway is a litigation,” the director from Centro Prodh clarified.

In a press conference that six of the 11 women complainants attended, accompanied by their legal advocates from the Centro Prodh and the collective for Justicia and International law (Cejil), it was pointed out that the case reaching the Coridh is a historic achievement in the search for truth and justice, which was impossible to access on the national level.

The lawyers Brewer and Marcia Aguiluz, from Cejil –connected via Internet from Costa Rica–, explained that since last December the IACHR adopted the background report that contains its conclusions about the case and that it gave reason to find that the complainants suffered unlawful and arbitrary detention, diverse acts of physical, psychological and sexual torture, a lack of due process and denial of justice, violations for which the Mexican State will have to respond.

A decade after the acts of May 3 and 4, 2006, [1] there is not one single firm criminal sentence and the criminal processes underway are limited to state protection and are developed starting with accusations against four dozen agents with a low rank, without touching the chain of command and other spheres and levels of responsibility. At the time that the acts occurred, the governor of the state of Mexico was Enrique Peña Nieto, now president.

And although the Coridh does not impose individual criminal responsibilities, in the background report it gives an account of the responsibility of some individuals, and mentions the necessity of investigating on two levels the responsibility of the governor of the state of Mexico. “The first is around the possible emission of statements that promised the independence and autonomy of the investigations, and the second is because of the absence of an in-depth investigation about the chain of command,” explained Santiago Aguirre, assistant director of the Centro Prodh.

[1] On May 3 and 4, 2006, state and federal police terrorized the town of San Salvador Atenco right after Subcomandante Marcos spoke at a rally in the town as part of the EZLN’s “Other Campaign.” 2 people died and approximately 150 were arrested and taken to jails.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee



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