IACHR CONDEMNS MURDER OF INDIGENOUS LEADERS IN MEXICO
Washington, D.C., February 24, 2009 — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the murder of Raúl Lucas Lucía and Manuel Ponce Rosas, defenders of the rights of indigenous people in the State of Guerrero, Mexico, and urges the authorities to investigate and punish those responsible.
Raúl Lucas Lucía and Manuel Ponce Rosas were the president and secretary of the Organization for the Future of the Mixteco People and active members of the organization of the Me’phaa Indigenous People. According to the information received by the IACHR, on February 13, 2009, when they attended an inauguration ceremony of construction works at a school, they were confronted by persons who identified themselves as policemen and who forced them at gunpoint to get into a black vehicle with opaque windows and without plates. On February 19, the IACHR requested the State of Mexico urgent information about the whereabouts of Raúl Lucas Lucía and Manuel Ponce Rosas, on the basis of the Inter-American Convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons.
Civil society organizations informed the IACHR that the bodies of both were found on February 21, with signs of torture. The IACHR urges the State of Mexico to conduct an exhaustive investigation and to punish those responsible for the killing. The IACHR also calls on the State to take the necessary measures to guarantee the security of the defenders of the rights of indigenous people in Guerrero.
As the IACHR noted in its Report on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in the Americas, the work of such defenders is essential for building a solid and lasting democratic society. Human rights defenders play a leading role in the process of pursuing the full attainment of the rule of law and the strengthening of democracy.
A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has the mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who act in a personal capacity, without representing a particular country, and who are elected by the OAS General Assembly.
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