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Mexico: Help Inés and Valentina achieve justice and protection

    Thursday, November 8, 2012 - 00:00

    Two Indigenous Me' phaa women Inés Fernández Ortega and Valentina Rosendo Cantú were raped by soldiers in separate attacks in Guerrero State in 2002.

    The women courageously reported these crimes but saw their cases transferred to the military justice system, a systematic practice in Mexico when soldiers are accused, and an insurmountable obstacle to justice.

    Yet the women did not give up, even amidst threats against them. They took their cases all the way to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. In August 2010, the court ruled Mexico was responsible for serious flaws in its treatment of the two women, which resulted in impunity and further exposure to harm. The court ordered a full investigation by civilian authorities, reparations for Inés and Valentina and reforms to the military justice system.

    *** UPDATE - GOOD NEWS! ***

    At a public ceremony on 15 December 2011, Mexico's Interior Minister formally apologized to Valentina Rosendo Cantú and acknowledged the responsibility of the state for the rape and abuse she suffered. The Act of Acknowledgment, one of the steps demanded by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, was attended by other government ministers, together with Valentina and her family. A public Act of Acknowledgment for Inés is to take place in 2012.

    This is an enormously welcome development but it is not enough. In a moving message to Amnesty letter writers, Valentina said "Nomaá ("Thank you" in Me' phaa) ... without your letters, your action and your solidarity, we would not have achieved this ..." But Valentina added: "The road to follow is still very long."Continued international pressure is crucial to ensure the Mexican government implements all of the measures ordered by the Inter-American Court, including a full investigation, adequate reparations, protection for the women and their families, and reforms to ensure the experience of Inés and Valentina is not repeated.

    Take Action

    Write a short, polite message, as follows: 

    • Make sure to identify you are writing from Canada since international concern carries weight.
    • Express thanks for the public apology to Valentina Rosendo Cantú on 15 December 2011 and acknowledgment of state responsibility for the harm she suffered.
    • Call for full implementation of the sentences of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights with regard to the cases of both Valentina and Inés Fernández Ortega, including impartial investigations by civilian authorities, adequate reparations, reforms to the military justice system and other protection measures identified by the Court.
    • Ask to be updated about all steps taken by the Mexican government.

    Write To

    President of the Republic
    Lic. Felipe de Jesús Calderón Hinojosa 
    Residencia Official de 'Los Pinos'
    Col. San Miguel Chapultepec
    México D.F., C.P. 11850
    Fax: 011 52 55 50 93 53 21 
    Dear President
    Interior Minister
    Dr. Alejandro Poiré Romero 
    Secretaría de Gobernación 
    Bucareli 99, 1er. piso, Col. Juárez
    Delegación Cuauhtémoc 
    México D.F., C.P.06600, MEXICO 
    Dear Minister

    Copies To

    Attorney General of the Republic
    Marisela Morales Ibáñez
    Paseo de la reforma 211-213
    Col Cuahuhtémoc
    México DF, CP 06500
    Fax: 011 52 55 5346 0908
    His Excellency Francisco J. Barrio Terrazas
    Ambassador for Mexico
    45 O'Connor Street, Suites 1000 & 1030
    Ottawa, Ontario K1P 1A4
    Fax: (613) 235-9123

    More Background

    Under President Calderón, the military has been deployed throughout the country in policing operations to combat drug trafficking gangs responsible for thousands of killings in recent years. This has coincided with increasing reports of serious human rights abuses committed by soldiers, including disappearances, torture, sexual violence. Indigenous women in isolated communities are particularly vulnerable. 

    Lack of justice for the sexual assaults on Inés and Valentina sends a green light for further such attacks. It leaves all Indigenous women in a state of insecurity and justifiable fear.

    As they courageously continue to seek justice, Inés and Valentina have been harassed and threatened on numerous occasions, as have members of their families. Other members of the Me’ phaa Indigenous People’s Organization (OPIM) , which has actively supported the women in their quest for justice, have also been targeted.