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10 April 2018

National Human Rights Commission cites federal authorities’ responsibility for serious violations committed against human rights defenders Damián Gallardo and Enrique Guerrero

Oaxaca-Geneva-París, 8 April 2018

·     National Human Rights Commission recommendation is further sign of multiple violations committed against defenders and urgency of release
·     CNDH urges Attorney General of Mexico to carry out immediate investigation into torture
·     NGOs call for implementation of monitoring mechanism for compliance with recommendation


On 20 March 2018, nearly 5 years after several complaints were first lodged, recommendation  5/2018[1] was issued by the Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos [National Human Rights Commission, hereinafter CNDH] in the cases of the human rights defenders Damián Gallardo Martínez, Enrique Guerrero Aviña and a further 10 individuals. It is worth recalling that both human rights defenders have been arbitrarily imprisoned since May 2013 and have been the victims of repeated human rights violations from their detention to the present date [2].

As both the families and the state, national, and international organisations following the defenders’ case, we seek to make public the contents of this recommendation, which confirms the veracity of the testimonies provided by Damián Gallardo and Enrique Guerrero concerning the serious human rights violations suffered.

The CNDH’s acknowledgement of serious human rights violations joins that of various international organisations such as the United Nations, which has spoken out against these on various occasions and in reminder of which we provide the following:

1) opinions 23/2014[3] and 55/2015[4] of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, considering the respective detentions of Damián Gallardo and Enrique Guerrero to be arbitrary and recommending their immediate release;
2) the urgent appeal [5] in reports on human rights defenders, torture, freedom of expression, and freedom of assembly and association concerning the violations committed against Damián Gallardo;
3) the concern for serious violations committed in both cases expressed in the report on the situation of individual defenders prepared by rapporteur Michel Forst after his visit to Mexico in 2017[6].
4) international organisations such as Front Line Defenders[7]; the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (a joint programme with the World Organisation Against Torture and the International Federation for Human Rights [abbreviated internationally as FIDH])[8]; the Coordinación Alemana para los Derechos Humanos en México [German Coordination for Human Rights in Mexico][9]; Amnesty International[10]; and a group of 50 international NGOs [11] likewise spoke out on repeated occasions with regard to the arbitrary nature of detention and the serious violations committed against defenders.

The symbolic nature of these cases has resulted in multiple visits being made to Damián Gallardo and Enrique Guerrero, both on the part of international organisations such as the diplomatic corps, and by the representative [12] of the office of the United Nations in Mexico, a historic event in cases of defenders detained in maximum security prisons.   

CNDH recommendation 05/2018 draws attention to the responsibility of federal authorities in the commission of serious human rights violations such as excessive use of force, arbitrary detention, home searches, arbitrary interference, violation of legal safety through the revealing of photographs, failure to investigate torture cases and the disclosure of confidential information on detained individuals.

This recommendation reveals a pattern of police behaviour in detentions, such as has been indicated by international organisations as a generalised practice for detentions in Mexico [13]. It provides an account of the existence of serious procedural violations in both cases, calling into question the actions of the police corps, the Procuraduría General de la República [Attorney General of Mexico, hereinafter PGR] and the judicial authority itself.

Furthermore, and in spite of the clarity provided on these issues, it is important to point out the deficiencies and omissions of the CNDH recommendation in several aspects. On the one hand, the failure to recognise Damián Gallardo  and  Enrique Guerrero  as human rights defenders is deeply worrying, despite their having been recognised as such by the United Nations and by various international organisations. The CNDH’s unwillingness to provide this recognition hampers understanding of the workings of human rights violations and their various aims and impacts.

Moreover, the failure to speak out on the existence of torture in both cases, simply concluding that unnecessary injuries exist, is particularly serious. In effect, not only the two cases of reference but also the 12 cases included in the recommendation show evidence of similar injuries and independent Istanbul protocol documentation consistent with possible torture. The CNDH enumerates only those injuries discovered after detention without analysing them in a global context or discovering the pattern they reveal.

In the particular case of Enrique Guerrero it is worth mentioning that while the CNDH recognises the existence of bullet holes in the human rights defender’s vehicle caused by members of the federal police, its conclusions remain evasive and fail to take a stand concerning the attempt at extrajudicial execution that this represents.

In conclusion, the recommendation constitutes yet another indicator of multiple violations committed against defenders and the urgent nature of their release. Compliance with the legally established time frames on the part of the corresponding authorities is fundamental. We the undersigned will be vigilant as to the response of the authorities indicated and due compliance with the recommendation in the various aspects that it sets out.

In this regard, we outline the recommendation’s scope, by which the CNDH:
A) will file a report with the PGR such that it investigates and punishes those authorities named as responsible;
B) will lodge a complaint with the federal police’s department of Internal Affairs so that it investigates and punishes those members cited for excessive use of force, arbitrary interference, arbitrary detention and violation of procedural guarantees;
C) urges the PGR to continue its investigations into torture denounced by both defenders;
D) urges the Comisión Nacional de Seguridad [National Commission for Security] to refrain from publishing photographs or personal data of detained individuals.

We demand that the authorities accept the recommendation in its entirety and consequently comply with the CNDH recommendation.
In this respect, we ask the National Human Rights Commission for the immediate implementation of a monitoring mechanism for complying with the recommendation, with the participation of our organisations, which follow the defenders’ cases.

Signing organisations

Article 19 Office for Mexico and Central America;
Consorcio para el Diálogo Parlamentario y la Equidad Oaxaca A.C. [Oaxaca Consortium for Parliamentary Dialogue and Fairness A.C.*];
Colectivo Contra la Tortura y la Impunidad A.C.[Collective Against Torture and Impunity A.C.*]
Colectivo Liquidámbar [Sweetgum Collective];
Colectivo Mujer Nueva [New Woman Collective];
Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Francisco de Vitoria O.P. A.C. [Brother Francisco de Vitoria  Human Rights Centre O.P.** A.C.*];
Comité de Familiares, Amigas y Amigos de Damián Gallardo Martínez [Committee of Family and Friends of Damián Gallardo Martínez];
Comité Enrique Guerrero Aviña [Committee for Enrique Guerrero Aviña];
FIDH, within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders;
Front Line Defenders:
Iniciativa Ciudadana Oaxaca [Oaxaca Citizens’ Initiative, abbreviated as ICO in Spanish]
Grupo de Acción por los Derechos Humanos y la Justicia Social [Action Group for Human Rights and Social Justice];
OMCT - World Organisation Against Torture, within the framework of Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders;
Servicios y Asesoría para  la Paz A.C. [Services and Consultancy for Peace A.C.*, abbreviated in Spanish as Serapaz];
Servicios para una Educación Alternativa EDUCA A.C. [EDUCA Services for an Alternative Education A.C.*]

*Translator’s Note: A.C. is the Spanish abbreviation for Asociación Civil, denoting a non-profit entity

** Translator’s Note: O.P. is the Spanish abbreviation for Orden de Predicadores, or Order of Preachers

Contact details
Damián Gallardo Martínez's case:
Yolanda Barranco Hernández, Tel: (045) 951 195 64 53 / Consorcio Oaxaca, 0449511240902
Enrique Guerrero Aviña's case:
Lenica Morales Zavaleta, E-mail:, Tel:  (01 55) 56045642 / Centro Fray Francisco de Vitoria, (01 55) 56596797 ext 227

[1]National Human Rights Commission, Recommendation 5/2018, Available at:
[2]More information about cases available at: y
[3]United Nations, Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Opinion 23/2014, available at:
[4]United Nations, Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Opinion 55/2015, available at:
[5]United Nations, Communications reports of special procedures, 27th Session of the Human Rights Council, September 2014. (p.46), available at:
[6]United Nations, End of Mission Statement by Michel Forst on his visit to Mexico on January 2017, available at:
United Nations, 37th Session of the Human Rights Council, Report on cases by the Special Rapporteur Michel Forst, March 2018, available at:
[7]Front Line Defenders. Case history: Caso Damián Gallardo Martínez. Available at:
[8]Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (OMCT-FIDH), Mexico: Joint press release: 4 years after the arbitrary detention of Damián Gallardo and Enrique Guerrero, the European Parliament and civil society call for their release. May 2017. Available at:
[10]Amnesty International, False suspicions. Arbitrary detentions by police in Mexico, 2017. Available at:
[11]Stand for Human Rights Defenders. Damián Gallardo. Available at:
[12]UN HR Mexico: Carries out work mission to Jalisco. Available at:
[13]Amnesty International, False suspicions. Arbitrary detentions by police in Mexico, 2017. Available at: