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Mexico

    October 30, 2014
    AI Canada members with the family of Héctor Rangel Ortiz

    By Tim Carpentier, an Amnesty activist who lives in Toronto

    Solidarity. I’ve long known that solidarity is a foundational principle of Amnesty’s work, but my conception of what it actually means changed while in Mexico for an activism conference. I, and my colleagues from Amnesty Canada (Alex Neve, Kathy Price, Crystal Giesbrecht, and Andrea Oakunsheyld), had the rare privilege of meeting someone on whose behalf we campaign, Brenda Rangel Ortíz, and she changed my outlook on activism.

    Brenda Rangel Ortíz is up against seemingly insurmountable odds as she continues to search for her brother, Héctor Rangel Ortíz, who was disappeared after being stopped by the police on 10 November 2009 in the city of Monclova, Coahuila state.

    Brenda told us how the official investigation is going nowhere, and conveyed the frustration that accompanies the process of trying to find answers in a broken system.

    October 17, 2014

    Ángel Amílcar Colón, tortured into "confessing" to crimes he did not commit and unjustly imprisoned for 5 years, has been released from jail!

    Thanks to the efforts of his legal team at Centro Prodh and activists in Mexico, Canada and around the world who raised their voices for justice, a man can now return to his family and his community. Never doubt that raising our voices for rights and justice can make a difference! Ángel Amílcar is free!

    Upon his release, Ángel said:

    "My message to all those who are showing me their solidarity, and are against torture and discrimination, is don't drop your guard. A new horizon is dawning. I feel happy about what is happening."

    A delegation from Amnesty International met Ángel in prison during a human rights research mission to Mexico in September 2014. His story was captured on film and shared with Amnesty supporters around the world, leading to thousands to respond and urge Mexican authorities for his release. 

    His story

    October 17, 2014

    Prisoner of conscience and torture victim Ángel Amílcar Colón Quevedo has been released from prison after five years in pre-trial detention, in a move that is welcome but long overdue, said Amnesty International.

    Ángel Colón was arrested by police in Tijuana, northern Mexico, while travelling from his home in Honduras to the United States in March 2009. He was then tortured by police and soldiers: beaten, asphyxiated and racially abused. He was forced to sign a false statement which was used to implicate him in criminal activity. He retracted the statement when brought before a judge and reported his torture to the authorities who failed to take any action.

    The Mexican Federal Attorney General has now agreed to drop charges against Ángel Colón and he has been released unconditionally.

    “Ángel Colón suffered torture at the hands of the Mexican authorities and has had years of his life wasted in pre-trial detention. This is an outrage,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    October 09, 2014
    Justice for Ayotzinapa protest in Mexico City, 8 October 2014

    By Kathy Price, Mexico Campaigner

    The photos arrived in a steady stream on my Facebook feed, a flood of images too numerous to include here - impossible to ignore. From the wide boulevards of Mexico’s capital to the streets of small towns across the country, women and men, young and old, thousands and thousands of them, marched in protest, united in their outrage about what was done in Guerrero State.

    October 07, 2014

    Alejandra Ancheita has been selected by the International Human Rights Community as the 2014 Martin Ennals Award Laureate.

    The Award is given to Human Rights Defenders who have shown deep commitment and face great personal risk. The aim of the award is to provide protection through international recognition. Strongly supported by the City of Geneva, the Award will be presented on 7 October.

    Alejandra Ancheita (Mexico), Founder and Executive Director of ProDESC  For over 15 years she has worked with migrants, workers and indigenous communities to protect their land and labour rights vis a vis transnational mining and energy companies. These disputes have included violent attacks on those she is trying to protect. She is also one of the pioneers in seeking accountability for transnational companies in Mexican courts when local communities’ rights are not taken into account. In Mexico, there is a clear pattern of attacks, threats, criminalization and murders of human rights defenders. Ms Ancheita and ProDESC have been subjected to surveillance, a defamation campaign in the national media and a break in at their offices.

    September 15, 2014
    Solidarity banner delivered to Claudia Medina (middle) from Amnesty Canada

    by Alex Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada
    -Mexico City, 15 September 2014.

    We could not have had a more powerful affirmation of how important solidarity is in our human rights work. 

    We passed over to Claudia Medina Tamariz a collection of messages from Amnesty supporters across Canada; greeting cards, letters, handwritten notes, and drawings.  We showed her some of the colourful messages that will be among the large number of petitions and letters turned over to Mexican officials later this month.  And we unfolded a vibrant yellow banner full of handprints and a message of solidarity, from an event held in Toronto in June.
     

    September 09, 2014

     

    by Alex Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada (English branch)
    - September 8, 2014, from Guadalajara, Mexico

    UPDATE: Ángel Colon was released in October 2014! He's now struggling for justice in his case and speaking out against torture in Mexico. Take Action >> Stand with Angel. 
     

    The prison we were about to visit loomed large and intimidating     Watch video of Angel Colon

    It had been a two and a half hour drive from Guadalajara. As we approached, the ominously named prison, CEFERESO Number 4, the Federal Centre for Social Rehabilitation, loomed large and intimidating at the bottom of one last hill.

    We spent the next hour going through the most extensive series of endless security checks I’ve been through in any prison visit, anywhere. It included a stamp on our forearms which only showed up under a special light, which we had to show again on our way out to demonstrate that none of us had stayed behind and allowed a prisoner to slip out in our place. There was, in fact, far more visible security than I have experienced on any of the visits I’ve made to the US detention centre at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

    September 04, 2014
    Mexico's National Human Rights Commission received more than 7,000 complaints for torture and other ill-treatment between 2010 and 2013. © Claudia Daut/Reuters

    Torture and ill-treatment in Mexico is out of control with a 600 per cent rise in the number of reported cases in the past decade, according to a new report published by Amnesty International. The organization is calling on the Mexican government to act now to stop the wide-spread and persistent use of torture by members of the police and armed forces.

    The report, Out of control: Torture and other ill-treatment in Mexico charts a serious rise of torture and other ill-treatment and a prevailing culture of tolerance and impunity. Only seven torturers have ever been convicted in federal courts and even fewer have been prosecuted at state level.

    July 23, 2014

    An undocumented migrant who was arrested and tortured by the Mexican police and army is currently facing an unfair trial solely because of his ethnicity and should be released immediately and unconditionally, said Amnesty International today, as it named him a prisoner of conscience.

    In 2009 Ángel Amílcar Colón Quevedo, a member of the Afro-descent Garífuna community, was picked up by police in Tijuana, Mexico, as he attempted to travel from his home in Honduras to the United States. He has been detained since then, charged with being part of a criminal gang.

    “Ángel Colón’s detention and ongoing trial is purely based on his ethnicity, and as such is a travesty of justice. This is a man who has been tortured and severely mistreated. He must be released immediately and unconditionally”, said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    May 13, 2014

    by Salil Shetty, Secretary General, Amnesty International
     

    “I am here to ask for your help,” said Claudia Medina when I met her in Mexico earlier this year. “I’m going to report a crime of torture.”

    Her words touched me, because I knew what Claudia had been through. At 3am on 7 August 2012, marines broke into the home she shared with her husband and three children. They tied her hands and blindfolded her, put her in a pick-up truck and took her to a naval base in Veracruz City. They accused her of being a member of a powerful and violent criminal gang, which she flatly denied.

    April 28, 2014

    The Mexican Congress must pass a reform of the Code of Military Justice that would see military personnel implicated in human rights violations against civilians face investigation and trial in the civilian justice system, Amnesty International said today.

    The proposed reform, approved last week by the Senate is due to be debated and voted this week by the Chamber of Deputies, just before the current legislative session ends.

    “The reform of the Code of Military Justice would be an historic move. The lack of independence and impartiality of the military justice system has ensured impunity until now, preventing justice for the victims of human rights violations committed by the Mexican military,” said Rupert Knox, Amnesty International’s researcher on Mexico.

    Over the years, Armed Forces personnel suspected of involvement in ill-treatment and torture, unlawful killings, enforced disappearances and other human rights violations, have routinely escaped justice.

    March 19, 2014

    Mexico must put into action the promises it makes to the United Nations Human Rights Council tomorrow if it is to address the dire human rights situation in the country, Amnesty International said today.

    “Effective long-lasting measures have to be taken to address ongoing patterns of disappearances, torture, arbitrary detentions as well as routine attacks on men and women defending human rights, journalists and migrants. Mexico must not fail again to uphold its commitments to the international community,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

    Tomorrow Mexico will announce to Human Rights Council members which of their 176 recommendations it will adopt. In 2009, during its last appearance before this human rights body, Mexico said it would implement the majority of recommendations. However, it then failed to take action in many areas to prevent the human rights crisis, which continues to this day.

    February 24, 2014

    Four members of the armed forces, accused of torture and sexual violence against two women in Mexico, have been detained to stand trial.

    Since 2002, Inés Fernández Ortega and Valentina Rosendo Cantú have been fighting for justice against the Mexican soldiers who raped them in separate attacks.

    Following the failure of an original trial conducted through the military courts, Ines and Valentina appealed to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR).

    In August 2010, the IACtHR issued two judgements against Mexico and ordered a full civilian investigation, as well as reparations and reforms to the military justice system.

    Over three years later the Government has finally brought the accused to trial. This represents a huge step towards achieving justice for the two women.

    February 18, 2014

    At a meeting with President Enrique Peña Nieto, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, Salil Shetty, delivered a memorandum demanding an urgent list of actions to combat entrenched impunity and serious human rights violations.  

    The meeting focussed on widespread torture, the large number of disappearances, abuses against migrants and refugees, attacks on journalists and human rights defenders, and violence faced by women and indigenous persons.

    “While Mexico is an increasingly important actor on the world stage, not only in economic terms but in the field of human rights, it is failing to deliver at home. I told the President that he must demonstrate he is serious about ensuring human rights not just internationally but for all inside the country as well,” said Salil Shetty.

    “The President has the power to address Mexico’s worrying human rights situation. He should take urgent and concrete steps to ensure full respect for human rights for every individual in the country.”

    December 05, 2013
     President Enrique Peña Nieto addresses an international Business Summit in Guadalajara on 22 October 2013. (c)HECTOR GUERRERO/AFP/Getty Image
    By Kathy Price, Mexico campaigner with Amnesty International Canada

    This week marks one year since Enrique Peña Nieto became president of Canada’s free trade partner south of the Rio Grande, returning the reins of power to the notorious political party, the PRI, which held Mexico in an iron grip from 1929 to 2000.

    The always photogenic Peña Nieto campaigned on promises that he was the face of a new PRI and a new Mexico that would break with a history of corruption, inequality and violence. Once in office he announced an ambitious programme of reforms and promised he would end the exponential increase in human rights abuses during the presidency of his predecessor Felipe Calderón.

    One year later, it is clear that President Peña Nieto has not delivered on his promises. The situation on the ground remains increasingly dangerous and disturbing. “On the Peña Nieto train, human rights have so far had to settle for the third-class carriage,” concludes Javier Zúñiga, a special adviser with Amnesty International.

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