The National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) arbitrarily closed a file derived from a complaint presented in 2021 by the journalist Marcela Turati, the Director of the Foundation for Justice (FJEDD) Ana Lorena Delgadillo, and the Regional Director of the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (EAAF) Mercedes Doretti. The complaint focused on the wiretapping and illegal investigation to which the three were subjected due to their key role in denouncing and demanding justice for the 2011 San Fernando Massacre in Tamaulipas, where 196 human remains were found in 48 clandestine graves.
From 2015 to 2016, the Attorney General’s Office of Mexico conducted an investigation of Marcela Turati, Ana Lorena Delgadillo and Mercedes Doretti and their work of communication, defense and investigation of the San Fernando Massacre. The efforts to involve the three women in an investigation of participants in organized crime structures, improperly using the Federal Law against Organized Crime, were denounced in November of 2021 before the Internal Affairs Division of the Attorney General’s Office in order to clarify the responsibility of the public officials who requested and enabled the illegal investigations.
The argument made by the CNDH to close the file is that the illegal investigation of the three women, including the wiretapping to which they had been subjected, were measures conducted legally in the context of the investigation of kidnapping and organized crime carried out in the Case of the Clandestine Graves of San Fernando.
In addition to conducting a fruitless investigation of the facts related to the massacre, which has propitiated ongoing impunity ten years later, the Mexican government and its investigative entities have criminalized and intimidated persons seeking to proceed with demands for justice and have protected officials acting against them.
This is not the first denunciation of the illegal collection of information about journalists and rights defenders by Mexican authorities. With its resolve to close the file, the CNDH –the autonomous body that should ensure the full implementation of human rights in the country and the protection of rights defenders and journalists– instead endorses the arbitrary use of the penal system against these three women and the development of practices that violate their human rights, freedom of expression, and freedom of the press. In so doing, the Commission issues a message of tolerance for human rights violations that are invasive, illegal, and ominous.
The same lack of protection prevails in the operations of the Mechanism for the Protection of Rights Defenders and Journalists, which has failed to comply with its obligations to protect and guarantee a safe environment for the defense of human rights and the practice of journalism. The attention given to Marcela Turati and Ana Lorena Delgadillo as beneficiaries of the Mechanism, for example, has been characterized by an absence of communication with them and the lack of a risk analysis in their case, which results in measures that fail to respond to the true needs of the women who need a safe environment.
We of the National Network of Women Human Rights Defenders in Mexico and the Mesoamerican Initiative of Women Human Rights (IM-Defensoras) hereby condemn the decisions and actions of the National Human Rights Commission in its omission of the human rights violations committed against the defenders and journalist, and in its endorsement of the version of the Attorney General’s Office.
We demand an immediate end to any act whatsoever involving the criminalization and illegal investigation of Marcela Turati, Ana Lorena Delgadillo and Mercedes Doretti; an investigation and sanctions against the criminal acts committed against these three women as a result of the illegal investigation; and guarantees for the protection of their integrity and their right to freely engage in communication and the defense of human rights.
And finally, we join in the demands for truth, justice, reparation of damages, and reliable measures in the face of irregular investigative processes committed against women human rights defenders and journalists in Mexico.