Oaxaca: arbitrary detentions

from Amnesty International: More than 140 people, including 34 women, were detained in Oaxaca City, southern Mexico, on 25 November when a protest against the state governor ended in violent clashes with federal and state police.

Many detainees were reported to have been beaten and threatened with death once in custody. They were denied access to their families, legal advice and adequate medical attention for several days.

On 27 November, at the request of state authorities, detainees were transferred to a federal prison in Nayarit state, 1200km from Oaxaca, where access to family, lawyers and medical care was severely restricted. Non-governmental human rights organizations and relatives who were finally allowed to visit the prisoners reported that many detainees still showed signs of the beatings suffered at the time of arrest and of cruel treatment while in detention, such as shaven hair, even for women. The National Human Rights Commission has reportedly examined those detained but has not made its findings public, though it describes a widespread lack of respect for fundamental human rights in a recently published preliminary report on the Oaxacan conflict.

Two days after arriving in Nayarit, three football players amongst the detained were released without charge when the authorities acknowledged that they were not involved in protests.

On 16 December, after three weeks in detention, 43 people were released. The state government is reported to have dropped the charges and paid for their bail. On 20 December, 91 of the 95 detainees were moved back to two state prisons in Oaxaca, and subsequently 11 were released. On 21 December 80 remained in custody. Many of those detained were reportedly not involved in the protests or violence, but they all face serious criminal charges such as sedition, attacks on public roads, arson and theft. Amnesty International is concerned that breaches in due process rights of detainees and reliance on some falsified police evidence violate the right to a fair trial and the right not to be detained arbitrarily.

The new federal government took office on 1 December, since when arrest warrants issued by Oaxaca state judicial authorities have been implemented against several teachers and supporters of the local opposition movement, the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca (Asamblea Popular del Pueblo de Oaxaca, APPO). Amnesty International recognizes that criminal offenses committed during protests should be investigated impartially. However, during the crisis the organization has documented widespread human rights violations, particularly by municipal and state officials, including excessive use of force, arbitrary and incommunicado detention, torture, fabrication of evidence, and political killings. Despite this, during a recent visit by Amnesty International to Oaxaca, no evidence that the authorities were impartially or effectively investigating such abuses could be found.

Amnesty International recognizes the responsibility of state and federal authorities to guarantee public order and prosecute those implicated in violence. However, the measures taken must always respect international human rights standards.


Take action!

Dear President / Minister,

I am writing to you to express my concern at widespread human rights violations committed during the political crisis in Oaxaca, which reportedly included arbitrary and incommunicado detention, ill-treatment, torture, violations in due process rights and unlawful killings. In particular, I am concerned at the plight of the over 140 people arrested on 25 November, many of whom appear to have been beaten and detained on charges that appear to be baseless.

I recognize the responsibility of the authorities to guarantee public order and prosecute those implicated in crimes. However, the measures taken must always respect international human rights standards and any violations must be investigated impartially and effectively.

According to information received by Amnesty International, many of those detained during violent clashes with the PFP and state police on 25 November 2006 were beaten and threatened by federal police in custody. Furthermore, there is serious concern that many of those arrested were not involved in violent protests and have been denied the right to effective legal defence, and may face prosecution on the basis of falsified or unreliable evidence.

I urge you to ensure the rights of due process of all those detained are effectively protected and that any official implicated in human rights violations, whether municipal, state or federal, is investigated and brought to justice and the victims receive full reparations.
In order to achieve a lasting and just solution to the crisis in Oaxaca, it is essential that all steps taken by the federal government meet its international human rights obligations.

Yours sincerely,


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Please send appeals to:

President of the Republic
Lic. Felipe de Jesús Calderón Hinojosa
Presidente de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos
Residencia Oficial de “Los Pinos”, Casa Miguel Alemán
Col. San Miguel Chapultepec
México D.F., C.P. 11850, MÉXICO

Fax: (+ 52 55) 52772376

Salutation: Señor Presidente / Dear Mr President

Minister of the Interior
Lic. Francisco Javier Ramírez Acuña
Secretario de Gobernación
Secretaría de Gobernación
Bucareli 99, 1er. piso, Col. Juárez
Delegación Cuauhtémoc
México D.F., C.P.06600

Fax: (+52 55) 5093 3414/15/16
(to confirm receipt /17)

E-mail: facuna@segob.gob.mx

Salutation: Señor Secretario / Dear Minister

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sources: amnesty.org