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New criminal proceeding against woman human rights defender Kenia Inés Hernandez Montalván

Status: 
Judicial Harassment
About the situation

On 25 March 2021, lawyers of woman human rights defender Kenia Inés Hernandez Montalván were notified by the General Attorney Office (FGR) that a new investigation against the defender has been opened. The initial hearing is planned to be held on 27 March 2021 and will determine if she will be formally charged with “attacks on general lines of communication” as a result of her peaceful resistance to neoliberal development models imposed by the Mexican State.

About Kenia Inés Hernández Montalván

Kenia MontalvanKenia Inés Hernández Montalván is a human rights defender from Mexico, currently enrolled as the coordinator of peasant Collective Libertario Zapata Vive and for a long period a prominent leader of the National Movement for the Freedom of Political Prisoners. The Zapata Vive Libertarian Collective is a peasant movement that defends land rights, collective identity and promotes different forms of peaceful resistance against development models with a neoliberal approach imposed by the Mexican State.

26 March 2021
New criminal proceeding against woman human rights defender Kenia Inés Hernandez Montalván

On 25 March 2021, lawyers of woman human rights defender Kenia Inés Hernandez Montalván were notified by the General Attorney Office (FGR) that a new investigation against the defender has been opened. The initial hearing is planned to be held on 27 March 2021 and will determine if she will be formally charged with “attacks on general lines of communication” as a result of her peaceful resistance to neoliberal development models imposed by the Mexican State.

The opening of a new criminal case against the land rights and indigenous defender Kenia Inés Hernandez Montalván brings to seven the total number of cases filed against her, highlighting a campaign of criminalization. Her lawyers believe that this campaign is being orchestrated by corporate actors in collaboration with local authorities as a result of her legitimate activism on land rights.

Kenia Inés Hernandez Montalván was arbitrarily detained for the first time on 6 June 2020 while peacefully demonstrating at a toll booth in Hortaliza-Valle de Bravo in the State of Mexico. At the time, she was charged with "aggravated robbery" and brought to Chiconautla prison, Ecatepec in the state of Mexico before being conditionally released.

On 18 October 2020, Kenia Inés Hernández Montalván was arrested a second time at the Amozoc toll booth in the state of Puebla by around 22 police officers, and escorted by 20 police cars to a police station. At the time of the arrest the officers did not inform the woman human rights defender of the reason for her arrest or the charges against her. She was held in the Social Readaptation Centre of Santiaguito, located in Almoloya de Juarez in the state of Mexico and charged with “violent robbery”.

On 25 October 2020 the General Attorney Office requested a new arrest warrant be issued against her for the alleged crime of “attacks on general lines of communication”. Kenia Inés Hernandez Montalván was transferred to CEFERESO No.16, where she has remained in pre-trial detention since. The investigation has now advanced to the examination of evidence and the next hearing on this case is expected to take place on 29 March 2021 in Almoloya de Juárez, in the state of Mexico.

Kenia Inés Hernández Montalván, has been a beneficiary of the Federal Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists since September 2019. Several other members of the social movement that she coordinates, Zapata Vive, which advocates for land rights, have been subjected to persistent threats and political persecution since February 2019.

Front Line Defenders believes that Kenia Inés Hernandez Montalván is being targeted by the Mexican authorities as a result of her legitimate defence of land and indigenous peoples’ rights. Furthermore, the organisation interprets the criminalization campaign against the woman human rights defender as part of a broader strategy to intimidate and deter others from engaging in rights defence in the country. Front Line Defenders reiterates its call on the Mexican authorities to release Kenia Inés Hernandez Montalván from custody and to quash the baseless charges against her.