June 1, 2018—The undersigned organizations that form part of the InternationalObservatory on Human Rights in Mexico welcome the historic ruling thatsentenced two members of the Mexican military to prison for violating the humanrights of Valentina Rosendo Cantú in 2002.
Sixteenyears after the crimes took place, and eight since the Inter-American Court ofHuman Rights (Inter-American Court) issued a judgement against the Mexicangovernment on the case, Valentina finally obtained justice in her country. OnJune 1, 2018, two members of the Mexican Army, Nemesio Sierra García andArmando Pérez Abarca, were sentenced to 19 years in prison for the crime ofrape and torture against Valentina.
In thisemblematic ruling, the Seventh District Judge of the Twenty-First Circuit ofthe State of Guerrero recognized that the sexual abuse Valentina suffered was aform of torture, which was aggravated by the fact that she is indigenous andwas an adolescent at the time.
The undersigned organizations believe this sentence is a historic precedentbecause it establishes adequate sanctions for the severity of the crimescommitted and key guidelines for how sexual torture should be criminallyprosecuted in a context in which the practice of torture is common and nearly allcases end in impunity. By granting evidentiary value to Valentina’s testimony,this ruling is a sign of progress in the recognition and protection of therights of victims of this type of abuse. We also welcome the fact that theruling recognizes the asymmetry of power held by the perpetrators due to theirmilitary positions.
Furthermore,this ruling is an important demonstration of judicial independence and issignificant because it adequately guarantees the rights of Valentina Rosendoand addresses the consequences of human rights violations committed by stateagents.
It is important to highlight that this judicial decision is the first timein Mexico where a criminal conviction is issued based on a previous judgementmade by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Since 2008,the Inter-American Court has condemned the Mexican government on six occasions,more than half of which have corresponded to cases of human rights violationscommitted by members of the armed forces.
The ruling in the case of Valentina Rosendo Cantú represents an opportunityto reflect on the serious consequences of the armed forces’ participation inpublic security tasks. It is particularly relevant given the current debatearound the Internal Security Law (Ley de Seguridad Interior),which strengthens the role of the armed forces in internal security.
As theInternational Observatory, we reiterate our call to reject the InternalSecurity Law, as it contravenes Mexico’s international human rights obligationsand it exposes the civilian population to military abuses.
Lastly, wecongratulate Valentina Rosendo Cantú for her courage and determination in herpersistent fight for truth and justice, as well as the organizations—bothnational and international—that supported her in this fight throughout theyears.
Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (ACAT – France)
Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL)
German Network for Human Rights in Mexico
Due Process of Law Foundation (DPLF)
Latin American Working Group (LAWG)
Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)
World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)
Peace Brigades International – USA (PBI-USA)
Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights
About the Observatory:
The International Observatory on Human Rights in Mexico was established inDecember 2017 by 10 international human rights groups to monitor the humanrights situation in the country and to support Mexican civil societyorganizations in a context of increased violence and insecurity.
The membersof the Observatory include Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture(ACAT – France), Amnesty International, Center for Justice and InternationalLaw (CEJIL), the German Network for Human Rights in Mexico, the Due Process ofLaw Foundation (DPLF), Human Rights Watch, the Latin American Working Group(LAWG), the Swedish Fellowship of Reconciliation (SweFOR), the WashingtonOffice on Latin America (WOLA), Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI), theWorld Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), Peace Brigades International – USA(PBI-USA), Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, and the Wilson Center.