World Organisation against Torture (OMCT) expresses concerns about 5 indigenous Tzeltal prisoners in Chiapas

World Organisation against Torture (OMCT) expresses concerns about 5 indigenous Tzeltal prisoners in Chiapas
They report that four of them complained of harassment by the authorities, who threatened to send them to a punishment cell.

Hermann Bellinghausen
Published: 04/07/2011 14:55


Mexico, DF. The International Secretariat of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) spoke in Geneva, Switzerland, of their concerns for the five Tzeltal campesino prisoners in Chiapas, including a minor, inhabitants of the ejido of San Sebastián Bachajón (municipality of Chilon) and denounced the deplorable conditions the prisoners are enduring.

They stated that the four adults, Jerome Guzman Mendez, Domingo Pérez Alvaro, Juan Aguilar Guzmán and Domingo García Gómez - incarcerated in the National Centre for Social Reinsertion of the Sentenced (Cereso) number 17 (municipality of Playas de Catazajá) -  "complained of harassment from the governor", who threatened to send them to "a punishment cell".

The OMCT continued: "It is feared that the threats and acts of harassment may be a result of the solidarity actions that are being undertaken in support of the prisoners, in particular the campaign '5 Days of Worldwide Action for the Bachajón 5', which took place between the 1st and 5th of April". The agency added that the detainees "are forced to perform demeaning jobs for refusing to pay the fee to the 'selfgovernment' of the detention centre and to defend their right to dignified treatment".

The minor, Demeza Mariano Silvano, remains in the Villa Crisol Special Detention Centre for Adolescents (municipality of Berriozábal), because the office of the state procurator of justice set bail of 22 thousand pesos (1,300 euros), a sum that his family "cannot pay".

The International Secretariat of the OMCT condemned "all violations of human rights" in the case, "including the lack of respect for due process, of the right to the presumption of innocence and to due judicial protection" for the ejidatarios who were arrested in February.

The OMCT also expressed their concern for the safety and physical and psychological integrity of these people, and urged state and federal authorities to guarantee these. On the other hand, they urged those authorities to release Demeza Silvano, who is still detained under the same charges that the other ejidatarios, who were subsequently released, were accused of. The Mexican government must "comply with its obligations in respect of fundamental rights at the international and regional level". In this case, they urged the government "to act in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child".

The international organization recognizes the existence of a conflict between the ejidatarios, who are adherents to the Other Campaign, and the government of Chiapas, about the management and exploitation of the natural resources found in the ejido of San Sebastian. On the 6th of February, the Chiapas government announced the start of a process of dialogue, in which the ejidatarios and Other Campaign adherents declined to participate.