Rodolfo Montiel and Teodoro Cabrera

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has published its sentence condemning the Mexican State for violating the human rights to liberty, personal integrity, due process and judicial protection of Rodolfo Montiel and Teodoro Cabrera, campesino ecologists from the state of Guerrero. For their activism in defence of the forests, the environmentalists were victims of arbitrary detention and torture by members of the military in 1999.

Among the Court’s orders the following stand out: carry out an investigation in civilian jurisdiction for torture in the case of the ecologists Teodoro Cabrera and Rodolfo Montiel, pay reparations to the victims for the harm suffered, cover the cost of medical and psychological treatment for the victims, improve the governmental Register of Detained Persons to avoid abuses against this population, and reform the Code of Military Justice to exclude all human rights crimes from military jurisdiction. On this last point, the Court specified, “this conclusion applies not just to the crimes of torture, forced disappearance, and rape, but to all human rights violations.”

According to the Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez (Prodh) Human Rights Centre, which carries the case of the ecologists, represents a criticism of the Mexican State’s reaction to previous sentences that have demanded a reform to the system of military jurisdiction. They say that this jurisprudence shows that “it is clear that the bill presented by President Calderón last October 18th to reform the Code of Military Justice does not satisfy the orders of the Inter-American Court”.

The sentence represents the fifth time, in little more than a year, that the Inter-American Court has condemned the Mexican State for human rights violations and a lack of access to justice. Apart from the so-called ‘Cotton Field Case’ of feminicide in the state of Chihuahua, the other cases have focused on abuses by the Mexican army against human rights defenders in the state of Guerrero: the forced disappearance of Rosendo Radilla, the rapes of Valentina Rosendo Cantú and Inés Fernández Ortega, and this case of the ecologists.

For more information on this sentence, see the Prodh Centre’s press release

Click here to see an informative documentary about the the ecologists’ case and the persecution of those who have fought to defend the forests of Guerrero (Spanish)

<media 6963>Download PBI Mexico’s recent publication: Mexico Before The Inter-American Court (pdf)</media>