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Pablo Lopez Alavez

Pablo López Alavez


Pablo López Alavéz is a Mexican environmental rights defender and Zapoteco indigenous leader who has been arbitrarily imprisoned for almost nine years in the state of Oaxaca. He was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment after an unfair trial.

Over the past twenty years, Pablo López Alavéz has worked to ensure the rights to a safe environment and access to water by the community of San Isidro Aloapam. As a consequence of his work against human rights violations deriving from illegal logging in the region, Pablo López Alavéz has been criminalised and sub- jected to arbitrary detention since 2010. The defender exercised a number of community leadership roles, reported on the illegal logging of trees and raised awareness on environmental protection and sustainability. As a consequence, he has faced a number of criminalisation procedures since 2000.

In August 2010, Pablo López Alavéz was arbitrarily and violently detained by a group of more than 15 unidentified men wearing hoods, who also assaulted a number of his relatives that accom- panied him. He was taken to a prison in Etla, Oaxaca, on spurious charges of murder. The investigation and trial of Pablo López Alavéz were riddled with inconsistencies, and, despite the absence of any credible evidence against him, the human rights defender was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

The case of Pablo López Alavéz represents the endemic use of criminalisation as a reprisal against indigenous leaders who work for the defence of land and territory, and, in particular, those who struggle to protect environmental resources from illegal exploita- tion. The prosecution of Pablo López Alavéz fits a pattern of crim- inalisation of indigenous leaders in Oaxaca in which prosecutions are often marked by the use of incommunicado detention, torture and other serious violations of human rights.


Human rights defenders (HRDs) and journalists in Mexico are subject to intimidation, legal harassment, arbitrary detention, death threats, acts of physical aggression, enforced disappearances and killings as a result of their activities in defence of human rights and the exercise of freedom of expression and journalism.