Human Rights and the Denial of Justice in Mexico: The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Returns to the Case of Digna Ochoa, “Rights Violations” to be Revealed – by Norma Trujillo Báez (La Jornada de Veracruz)

~ This article was originally published by La Jornada de Veracruz on April 24, 2014 ~

When the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) returns to the case of the murder of Digna Ochoa y Plácido (born Veracruz, 1964; died Mexico City, 2001), her brother Ignacio says that irregularities in the State’s preliminary investigation will appear: Digna’s behavior and image were put in doubt. The Mexican State can be sanctioned, showing that all the country’s human rights defenders are at risk.

In an interview, Ignacio Ochoa says that there is still no justice in the case. Mexico City’s District Attorney tarnished her image and manipulated the case because it worked it only as a suicide, rather than a murder. But “the Washington-based IACHR will analyze all the irregularities that we have always presented, such as the failures in the initial investigation, and hiding the intellectual mastermind and material executors of Digna’s murder. The collusion behind denying justice in our country is evident, even today, even though it portrays itself as democratic.”

– Even after so much time has passed, do you still maintain that the murder was a result of Digna’s activism?

– “In the initial investigation, there’s expert evidence showing that at the crime scene Digna was subjected to physical aggression. Digna was never suicidal.”

The IACHR’s 16 July 2013 admissibility report [number 57/13] for the case shows that since 2 November 1999 the Commission has known of possible human rights violations.

Digna Ochoa was born on 15 May 1964 in Misantla, Veracruz. As a lawyer she litigated cases of alleged Zapatistas from Yanga, Veracruz and from the State of Mexico (1995). She  also litigated the cases of Aguas Blancas and El Charco (1995) from Guerrero; of Acteal in Chiapas (1997), and of Guerrero’s imprisoned ecologists, Rodolfo Montiel and Teodoro Cabrera.

On 19 October 2001, Digna Ochoa y Plácido was murdered in her office in 31-A Zacatecas Street, in Mexico City’s Colonia Roma, an act that immediately provoked indignation from different human rights organizations.

The real reason behind the human rights defender’s murder may only come to light this year. But the IACHR’s admissibility of the case also puts her family at risk: a general sense of insecurity exists; the government is unhappy with the decision and tried to block the case’s admissibility before the IACHR, Digna’s brother said.

“It will be demonstrated that Digna was murdered. The lack of access to justice shows that Mexico violates human rights, that it is not a democratic country. In order to advance human rights we have confronted the President and the state governor, both of whom are obvious human rights violators.”

For human rights defenders, “the vindication of Digna Ochoa y Placido’s image will validate the work of those who defend human rights in Mexico,” given that to “justify” the argument of her suicide, Mexico City’s prosecutor attacked Digna Ochoa’s image, history, life, and work. Thus her brother argued that her vindication will be fundamental.

Journalist Norma Trujillo Báez reports for La Jornada from Veracruz. This story was first published bearing the title, “Retoma CIDH caso Digna Ochoa; revelará “violación de derechos.”

TBI Translator Patrick Timmons (@patricktimmons) is a freelance journalist, independent human rights investigator, and adjunct professor of Political Science and faculty affiliate at the Center for Inter-American and Border Studies at the University of Texas at El Paso.

About Michael Lettieri

Program Officer at the Trans-Border Institute

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