Release of Dominga González, Marco Antonio Pérez and Lorenzo Sánchez strengthens the calls for justice for the Tlanixco 6
On 17 February 2019, a criminal judge of the Toluca Judicial District decided on the dismissal of criminal case 32/2003, referring to the accusations of murder against Dominga Gonzalez, Marco Antonio Pérez and Lorenzo Sánchez, and determined their release.
Dominga González Martínez is an indigenous Nahua woman who for many years has been a prominent member of the “Comisariado Ejidal de San Pedro Tlanixco” which has worked against the privatisation of the water supply which is vital to their community. She was also a prominent member of “Comisión para la Defensa del Agua”.
Front Line Defenders welcomes the release of Dominga González Martínez, Lorenzo Sánchez Berriozabal and Marco Antonio Pérez González, Náhuatl indigenous human rights defenders who were imprisoned for 11 years on the “Tlanixco 6” case. Their liberation reaffirms the innocence of all 6 defenders on the case, and strengthens the call for the immediate and unconditional release of co-defendants Rómulo Arias Mireles,Teófilo Pérez González, Pedro Sánchez Berriozabal.
On 17 February 2019, a criminal judge of the Toluca Judicial District decided on the dismissal of criminal case 32/2003, referring to the accusations of murder against Dominga Gonzalez, Marco Antonio Pérez and Lorenzo Sánchez, and determined their release. The evidence that proved their innocence was reconsidered by the court, who recognised that Tlanixco is an indigenous community. International calls and observations from United Nations bodies and mechanisms condemning the procedures as a miscarriage of justice were also taken into account.
Under requests of the Congress of the State of Mexico, the State Attorney General's Office (Fiscalía General de Justicia del Estado de México) had removed the accusations against them, recognising the lack of evidence to pursue the case and the violations of due process of law guarantees that the human rights defenders faced.
Nonetheless, indigenous rights defenders Rómulo Arias Mireles, Teófilo Pérez González and Pedro Sánchez Berriozabal remain imprisoned, given the existence of final criminal sentences against them, which can only be questioned through a revision on their cases. Their unjust imprisonment has so far lasted more than 15 years, an excessive amount of time, during which their due process guarantees were not followed.
Front Line Defenders welcomes the release of Dominga Gonzalez, Marco Antonio Pérez and Lorenzo Sánchez as a positive step towards achieving justice for the Tlanixco 6; at the same time that it calls on Mexican authorities for the release of Teófilo Pérez González, Rómulo Arias Mireles and Pedro Sánchez Berriozábal, and highlights the existence of a pattern of criminalization against indigenous human rights defenders in the country.
Front Line Defenders calls on Mexican authorities to provide Dominga González Martínez, Lorenzo Sánchez Berriozabal and Marco Antonio Pérez González with integral reparation for damages, in consultation with the human rights defenders and their family members; and further asks for the implementation of guarantees of non-repetition regarding the protection of indigenous human rights defenders in Mexico, so as to address the pattern of human rights violations against them.