Last month, we asked you to take action for Mexican inidgenous human rights defender Raúl Hernández. We are thrilled to report that after two years in Guerrero state prison on fabricated charges Raúl was finally released! A big thank you to all who took action!
We are now calling for an investigation into his unfounded prosecution and for him to be fully compensated for his unfair imprisonment.
Later, during evidential proceedings, the state court judge carried out a crime scene inspection which confirmed that evidence by witnesses who claimed that Raúl Hernández was present during the murder were baseless.
We believe the case against Raúl Hernández was a reprisal by local authorities for his legitimate activities promoting indigenous rights with the Me’phaa Indigenous peoples’ Organization (Organización del Pueblo Indígena Me’phaa ,OPIM) and for highlighting abuses committed by local caciques (political bosses), military personnel and authorities.
Mexican authorities have frequently manipulated the justice system to punish those people who promote respect for the rights of marginalized communities and raise their voices to demand their rights. The unfair and prolonged detention of Raúl Hernandez is emblematic of the systematic persecution of members of the OPIM in Guerrero state and the regular threats and attacks suffered by human rights defenders in Mexico.
We are urging the Mexican government to develop an effective protection program for human rights defenders. The case of Raúl Hernández illustrates the vulnerability of human rights defenders in Mexico. Not only are they victims of unlawful detentions and imprisonment on unfounded charges, but they also face harassment, intimidation, threats and even killings.
Last week, we asked you to take action for inidgenous human rights defender Raúl Hernández. Many thanks to all who took action! Unfortunately, at his hearing on Friday, the State Attorney General’s Office of Guerrero upheld murder charges against Raúl, despite unreliable and fabricated evidence. The judge presiding over the case is expected to decide on his innocence or guilt within days.
Raúl, a member of the Me’phaa Indigenous People’s Organization (OPIM) in Guerrero State, Mexico, was arrested along with several other OPIM members in April of 2008 and accused of murdering Alejandro Feliciano García. Amnesty International believes that their arrests were prompted by their human rights work in defense of the Me’phaa Indigenous Peoples. The original charges against Raúl were based on questionable eyewitness accounts, and evidence presented in his defense was disregarded. Fortunately, on June 30 of this year, the judge presiding over his case decided that the evidence against him was unreliable and requested that the Guerrero State Attorney General issue a recommendation on the case.
Raúl Hernández, a member of the Me’phaa Indigenous People’s Organization (OPIM), has been detained for over two years for a crime Amnesty International believes he did not commit. He and four other OPIM members were arrested on April 17, 2008 and charged with the murder of Alejandro Feliciano García on January 1, 2008 in the village of El Camalote, Guerrero State, in Mexico. The other four OPIM members were released in March of this year, but Hernández remains detained as the sole suspect for the murder of García.
The next few weeks will be a vital time for Hernández as the State Attorney General’s Office will have the opportunity to recommend that the case against him is dropped. We are asking members and activists to join us now in pressuring the State Attorney General’s Office to ensure that the charges against Hernández are dropped and that he is released immediately from detention.
The original charges against Hernández were based on questionable eyewitness evidence that appeared to be manufactured. Efforts by the defense attorney to question the reliability of this evidence were not taken into account during the initial stages of the case. He was actually denied an injunction because of two suspicious eyewitness accounts implicating him in the murder despite other testimonies that he was not present at the time of the crime. Only recently—on June 30 of this year—did a federal review judge decide that the evidence against Hernández was unreliable. This judge closed the evidence submission stage of the case, and the court has asked the State Attorney General’s Office for a recommendation on what should be done with the case, so now the power to decide what happens to Hernández is in the hands of the State Attorney General’s Office.
Amnesty International believes that authorities called for the arrest of Hernández and other OPIM members to stem their human rights work on behalf of the Me’phaa indigenous communities. It appears that the murder charges against Hernández were brought in reprisal for his legitimate activities promoting the rights of their community and exposing abuses by a local political boss (cacique) and local authorities. This is not surprising given the repeated harassment members of OPIM have faced from local authorities. They report being threatened, intimidated, attacked, and even murdered for their work.