Case History: Marisela Escobedo Ortiz
On 16 December 2010 an unknown assassin killed Marisela outside the governor's office, in the northern city of Chihuahua, where the human rights defender was holding a vigil for her daughter.
Marisela Escobedo Ortiz was a human rights defender who pursued justice for the killing of her 16-year-old daughter and other victims of violence in Mexico.
On 15 March 2011, Mr Juan Ernesto Maciel, along with his father, Mr Manuel Dámaso Maciel García, and his aunt, Ms María Maciel Garcia, were killed at their home in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua. Juan Ernesto Maciel was a key witness in the murder in August 2008 of Ms Rubi Marisol Fraye Escobedo, daughter of human rights defender Ms Marisela Escobedo Ortiz, who was also killed on 16 December 2010.
It is reported that Juan Ernesto Maciel, who was aged 17, had been scheduled to appear in court as a witness in the days following his killing.
On the night of 15-16 March 2011, a group of at least six armed men reportedly broke into the home of Manuel Dámaso Maciel García, María Maciel García and Juan Ernesto Maciel on Isla Tiburón street in the Plutarco Elias Calles district of Ciudad Juárez and shot all three individuals dead with automatic weapons before fleeing the scene. Two younger children, aged one and three years, were spared.
Those responsible reportedly travelled to and from the scene in two aging automobiles. Their faces were not covered, and they are described as being young men below the age of 20.
Marisela Escobedo Ortiz, a member of Justicia para Nuestras Hijas (Justice for Our Daughters) was killed outside the Chihuahua State Governor's Office on 16 December 2010 while attending a peaceful vigil against the absolution of her daughter's killer, together with other families of victims of femicide.
Front Line believes that the killing of Juan Ernesto Maciel and his family members was directly related to his legitimate and peaceful work in defence of human rights, particularly with regard to bringing to justice those responsible for the killing of human rights defender Rubi Marisol Fraye Escobedo. This new killing reflects the extreme risks faced by witnesses, human rights defenders and their families in Chihuahua State – particularly those involved in fighting impunity for cases of femicide in the State – in which the right to life is systematically violated with complete impunity.
Front Line is deeply saddened by the killing of human rights defender, Ms Marisela Escobedo Ortiz in Chihuahua, on 16 December 2010. Front Line strongly condemns the killing and believes that Marisela Escobedo Ortiz was targeted solely as a result of her work in the defence of human rights in particular, her fight for justice for the murder of her daughter, Rubi Marisol Fraye Escobedo, in August 2008 when aged 16 years. Marisela Escobedo Ortiz was a member of Justicia para Nuestras Hijas - Justice for our Daughters.
On the evening of 16 December 2010, Marisela Escobedo Ortiz was holding a peaceful vigil, together with other families of victims of femicide, against the absolution of her daughter's killer, outside the Chihuahua State Governor's Office. A security video recording is said to show a car arrive at the scene carrying a number of masked men.
One man allegedly approached the human rights defender and exchanged words with her. She attempted to get away but the man followed her and shot her in the head. He immediately fled the scene. Marisela Escobedo Ortiz was taken to a local hospital but died shortly afterwards as a result of her injuries.
Marisela Escobedo Ortiz's daughter, Rubi Marisol Fraye Escobedo disappeared in Ciudad Juárez in August 2008. In June 2009 her body was recovered burned, dismembered and dumped at a pig ranch near the city of Ciudad Juárez. Rubi's partner, Sergio Rafael Barraza Bocanegra was detained in Zacatacas and tried for his role in her disappearance and murder as a result of continued pressure on the authorities from Marisela Escobedo Ortiz. In April 2010 however, Sergio Barraza Bocanegra was exonerated and freed from prison.
Front Line believes that the killing of Marisela Escobedo Ortiz is directly related to her fight for justice for the murder of her daughter Rubi Marisol Fraye Escobedo. Front Line remains deeply concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of human rights defenders in the state of Chihuahua.