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Mexico, 11/23/2015

Estimado Gobernador
Lic. Gabino Cué Monteagudo
Governor of Oaxaca State, Mexico

Estimada Señora Procuradora
Arely Gómez González
Attorney General of Mexico

Dear Sir and Madam:

We are writing to express our deep concern for the freedom and safety of human rights defenders Rocio Celeste Martínez Gregorio and Fidel Desiderio Martínez. Rocio Celeste Martínez Gregorio works with the Mixe community in Oaxaca as part of the community feminist movement and also collaborates with the Colectivo Mujer Nueva, which promotes women’s rights and their community participation. She and Fidel Desiderio Martínez have played an important role in the student rights’ movement in Oaxaca and both have participated in actions in solidarity with victims of human rights violation and political prisoners.

On October 2, as they were walking through Oaxaca City on their way to a meeting at the Centre for the Defense of Human Rights of the People of Oaxaca (DDHPO), state police arrested them, took them to the Secretariat of Public Security (SSP) where they were held for seven hours without being told why they had been arrested. They were then brought to the Public Prosecutor of the State of Oaxaca, still without any explanation for their detention. The only “evidence” the state police presented to the Public Prosecutor were the time of detention and the belongings of the human rights defenders. The Public Prosecutor declared the detention legal and charged them with “damages.”

On October 11 Judge Sexto de lo Penal of the Distrito Judicial del Centro dropped the “damages” charges and released Rocio Celeste Martínez Gregorio and Fidel Desiderio Martínez.

We remain concerned, however, for the safety and freedom of other human rights defenders who are unjustly detained and face criminal charges. We are aware that, according to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Méndez, the use of torture in detention centers in Mexico is widespread and occurs in a context of impunity. We therefore strongly urge that you

  • end the criminalization of social protest and the legitimate work of human rights defenders
  • fully implement the 1998 UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, with particular attention to Articles 1, 5a, and 12.2
  • carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the detention of Rocio Celeste Martínez Gregorio and Fidel Desiderio Martínez, publish the results and bring those responsible to justice
  • end all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, of Rocio Celeste Martínez Gregorio and Fidel Desiderio Martínez and guarantee their freedom and security  
  • ensure that all human rights defenders are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.


Brian J. Stefan-Szittai and Christine Stonebraker-Martínez