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7 June 2019

Mexico: Stop the Criminalisation of Members of CECOP


Geneva-Paris-Stuttgart-Dublin-Brussels-Madrid-The Hague-Barcelona-Bern, 5 February 2019 – More than one year since the arbitrary detention of Marco Antonio Suástegui Muñoz and 16 other members of CECOP in the state of Guerrero, international organisations insist that any impartial analysis of the situation would require their release at a hearing, tomorrow, 6 February 2019.


CECOP members absolved after 17 months of unjust pretrial detention

On 7 June 2019, 16 members of Consejo de Ejidos y Comunidades Opositoras a la presa la Parota (CECOP) who had been criminalised since 7 January 2018 were absolved, after a judicial hearing at the Acapulco Justice Center (Centro de Justicia de Acapulco). The human rights defenders were held in pretrial detention for one year and five months, following a judicial process marked by irregularities.

While Front Line Defenders welcomes the acquittal of the 16 members of CECOP, it remains worried about the use of the judicial system, especially pretrial detention and unjustifiably long criminal procedures, as a tool to criminalise and intimidate human rights defenders. Front Line Defenders also remains concerned about the pattern of judicial harassment against indigenous and environmental rights defenders in reprisal for their legitimate human rights activities in the state of Guerrero.

One year ago, on 7 January 2018, a confrontation between members of the Community Police (CRAC-PC) and armed civilians in the community of La Concepción (Guerrero) left 8 people dead. A subsequent security operation, including elements of the State and Federal Police and the Army, resulted in 3 people being extrajuducially killed and at least 25 people detained arbitrarily, most of them members of Consejo de Ejidos y Comunidades Opositoras a la presa la Parota (CECOP).

The arbitrary arrests were made without warrants, which was justified by the State Attorney General on the grounds that there were weapons and drugs present. However, the initial investigation failed to substantiate these allegations and within a few hours an arrest warrant for homicide was issued. These actions demonstrate that the justice system was manipulated to detain these individuals and keep them in custody for a crime that had no legal or factual basis. In all the cases, there was ill-treatment, and in at least eight of them, torture. Additionally, lawyers and members of Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Montaña Tlachinollan were publicly defamed for legally representing the detainees.

More than a year since the arbitrary detention, human rights defender Marco Antonio Suástegui Muñoz and 16 other members of CECOP and the Community Police are still deprived of their freedom.

Despite evidence demonstrating that several of the detainees were not at the scene and that several of them were tortured, the judicial authorities have yet to fully evaluate the testimony of the accused, and have failed so far to investigate the acts of torture and serious human rights violations committed by the security forces.

We express our grave concern that these human rights violations were committed against human rights defenders from CECOP and CRAC-PC on account of their legitimate work defending indigenous rights related to land and territory and in confrontation with a hydroelectric project that threatens the subsistence and security of the local communities.

Our organisations reiterate our concern for a pattern of criminalisation in Mexico that silences the voices of human rights defenders; a pattern that has been corroborated by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. In recent years, it has issued 8 Opinions in which it declared the detention of 32 HRDs as arbitrary and demanded their immediate release.

Tomorrow, 6 February, an intermediate hearing will be held in the Court of Control and Criminal Proceedings in the Judicial District of Tabares, in which evidence will be presented and the judge will determine the future of the trial. This is a critical hearing since it will be decided whether the evidence obtained under torture and other evidenced that has been discredited by the defence will be taken into account. Should the judge reject this evidence, the 17 HRDs should be released.

For these reasons, our organisations demand an end to the arbitrary detention of Marco Antonio Suástegui Muñoz and the 16 other members of CECOP and the Community Police. Additionally, we demand that an independent and impartial investigation be initiated into the serious human rights violations that have been reported, including the abuse of law and the allegations of torture, ill-treatment and extrajudicial executions.

Signatory Organisations:

Organización Mundial Contra la Tortura (OMCT), en el marco del Observatorio para la Protección de los Defensores de Derechos Humanos

FIDH, en el marco del Observatorio para la Protección de los Defensores de Derechos Humanos

Coordinación Alemana por los Derechos Humanos en México

Asociación de Investigación y Especialización sobre Temas Iberoamericanos (AIETI)

Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos España (APDHE)

Confederación Sindical de Comisiones Obreras (CS. CC.OO.)

Ecologistas en Acción

Front Line Defenders

Mexiko-Forum Schweiz

Protection International

Stichting Hester

Taula per Mèxic

Vredesbeweging PAX

For more information, please contact:

OMCT: Miguel Martín Zumalacárregui / Delphine Reculeau: (+41) 22 809 49 39
FIDH: José Carlos Thissen: (+51) 95 41 31 650
Coordinación Alemana: Sandra Schleimer: (+49) (0) 221 25994541
AIETI: Raffaela Galante (+34) 915 770 640
APDHE: Carmen Molina Muñoz (+34) 914 02 23 12
CS. CC.OO: Mohammed Anouar Haidour (+34) 91 702 80 88
Ecologistas en Acción;
Front Line Defenders: Sandra Patargo (+ 52) 1 55 5050 9822
Mexiko-Forum Schweiz: Theres Höchli (+41) 78 656 47 34
Protection International: Mireia Crespo (+32) (0) 609 44 09
Stichting Hester: Ingrid de Vries (+31) (0) 624 481 571
Taula per Mèxic: Arturo Landeros
Vredesbeweging PAX: Sander Otten