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1 November 2018

Front Line Defenders urges the immediate release of human rights defenders facing criminalisation during this Presidential term

  • Front Line Defenders visits defenders unfairly detained in Federal Prison (CEFERESO Nº2 Puente Grande, Jalisco)
  • Front Line Defenders expresses concern about the lack of due process in the trials against defenders and their unfair imprisonment for more than 5 years

Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca, October 20, 2018

Front Line Defenders is an international organisation based in Dublin, Ireland, specialising in the protection of human rights defenders.

Mexico is one of the countries to which specific follow-up is given due to the grave climate facinghuman rights defenders (HRDs). Criminalisation, threats, physical attacks and killings are among some of the violations HRDs in Mexico face. As part of this follow-up, a delegation from the Front Line Defenders held a working visit to Mexico during the third week of October, which was undertaken by Deputy Director Andrea Rocca and Protection Coordinators for the Americas Ivi Oliveira and Sandra Patargo.

On October 19, the Front Line Defenders delegation visited Damián Gallardo Martínez and Enrique Guerrero Aviña, HRDs who have been held at the CEFERESO Nº2 in Puente Grande, Jalisco since May 2013, despite multiple national (1) and international (2) resolutions and recommendations that speak to the arbitrary nature of their detention, condemn the serious violations of their rights and demand their release.

During the visit, Front Line Defenders’ staff were able to document the deteriorating health of the HRDs as a result of of torture and other systematic violations of their rights.

Damián Gallardo currently suffers from a foot injury caused by torture at the hands of policewhen he was arrested and to date, he has not received the necessary medical attention. He is also experiencing other severe symptoms such as fleshy eyes, due to the delay of a necessary surgery and the absence of post-operative care.

Enrique Guerrero suffers from cervical pain and injuries to his hand resulting from the torture he experienced when he was arrested that lead to the dislocation of his thumb.

In both cases, Front Line Defenders expresses deep concern that these HRDs have also been denied specialised psychological care to address the impacts of torture on their mental health. Although Front Line Defenders has managed to secure funds to cover this care, the admission of specialists has been systematically denied by prison officials.

Since 2013, Front Line Defenders has closely followed the cases of Damián Gallardo Martínez, Enrique Guerrero Aviña and Librado Baños Rodríguez, among others. In consulting with these and other HRDs in Mexico, Front Line Defenders is increasingly aware of a pattern of ongoing criminalisation of human rights defenders in Mexico, especially those who engage in human rights activities in the state of Oaxaca.

This pattern has manifested in numerous instances of arbitrary detention of HRDs and fabrication of personnel files kept by the Prosecutor’s Offices with the intention of delegitimising work in defence of human rights. This pattern has also been recognised by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions, which has denounced eight cases of arbitrary detention of human rights defenders over the last four years, six of those in Oaxaca.

In another mission to Mexico in 2017, Front Line Defenders had the opportunity to visit HRDs Librado Baños Rodríguez and Pablo López Alavés, who have faced unfair trials and prolonged detention.

In the case of Librado Baños Rodríguez, Front Line Defenders celebrates the news of his recent release; however, it denounces the serious consequences five years of arbitrary detention have had on him, including the total loss of his sight. His case illustrates the irreparable impact of prison as a method of political repression.

In the case of Pablo López Alavéz, Front Line Defenders is concerned about the repeated violations of his right to due process, as well as a lack of guaranteed safety for his wife, WHRD Yolanda Pérez Cruz. Yolanda has suffered multiple attacks as a result of her ongoing fight for justice in the case of her husband. She has repeatedly suffered abuse at the hands of jail personnel and has been denied entry to the prison.

Front Line Defenders reminds the Mexican State that defending human rights is an internationally recognised right and reiterates that, in compliance with international recommendations and resolutions, the serious pattern documented in Oaxaca must be stopped. It is necessary to sanction those responsible using the justice system to criminalise protest and the defence of human rights.

Front Line Defenders urges that, in accordance with the principle of control of conventionality, human rights defenders facing criminalisation are immediately released and, consequently, the government should implement reparation processes.

Front Line Defenders considers that, given the political situation of the country vis-à-vis the incoming government, a unique opportunity has opened to end the criminalisation of human rights defenders, with respect and application of international recommendations. Front Line Defenders reaffirms its commitment to keep working with, and providing support to, human rights defenders in Mexico.

For more information or to contact Front Line Defenders please reach out to:

Sandra Patargo –
Ivi Oliveira –
Andrea Rocca -

(1) Recommendation 5/2018 – National Commission on Human Rights:

(2) 23/2014 and 55/2015 UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions,