October 31, 2003
The Honorable Mr. Carlos de Icaza
Ambassador of the Republic of Mexico to Japan
Embassy of Mexico
2-15-1 Nagatacho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Dear Ambassador Mr. de Icaza,
We, members of the undersigned groups in Japan, implore you to communicate to the President of the United Mexican States our extreme dismay over the worsening situation in the State of Chihuahua. We are particularly alarmed to hear from Mujeres de Negro in Chihuahua that they have been threatened with legal action, and that many of their members are currently under surveillance by Chihuahua law enforcement. Mujeres de Negro is one of the most effective advocates in Chihuahua for the families of victims. Oppressive actions against them must cease immediately.
We have been alarmed, through our communications with Mujeres de Negro and other human rights organizations, both in Mexico and elsewhere, that the Mexican State of Chihuahua must surely be the most dangerous place to be a young woman in the Americas. As I am sure you know, in the city of Juarez alone, since 1993, some 268 women have been murdered and at least 250 more have disappeared. All were between the ages of 15 and 24, and all the bodies found have been brutally raped, tortured and mutilated. This epidemic of violence is unprecedented in Mexico. And, most disturbing of all, the murders and disappearances continue.
The actions of Mexican authorities in response to these crimes have been ineffectual. We are told by attorneys in Mexico that existing laws have not been upheld. Questionable treatment of evidence and false accusations flaw too many investigations. The right to live in safety, to due process and to justice have all been violated time after time.
Families of the victims, their supporters and advocates have protested lack of effective action on the part of authorities continuously for nearly a decade, since the first victims began to disappear. Justicia Para Nuestras Hijas is a coalition of organizations, established in 2002 in Chihuahua to bring together NGOs, victims’ families and their legal advocates to enhance the struggle for justice. Mujeres de Negro is a member of this coalition. We join Justicia Para Nuestras Hijas in calling for justice and human rights and more effective action on the part of local authorities. We support their demands that the needs of Mexico’s growing population of young working women be addressed, including their need for security in going to, and returning home from their workplaces. We support their call for new laws to promote public safety, proper legal management of missing cases and scientifically accurate identification of human remains. We support their demand that any representative of state authority who does not fulfill his or her duty to uphold the law and protect the Mexican citizenry should be held accountable and punished. We also support their point of view that, if the Federal Government of Mexico fails to uphold internationally recognized standards of human rights, then the Mexican State is also responsible for the perpetuation of these crimes and should be subject to sanction from the international community.
We especially deplore reports we have received that families of the victims and their supporters, including Mujeres de Negro, have been subjected to repression carried out by agents of the Mexican State. The families of the victims and their supporters have demanded justice, exercised their right to freedom of expression and have sought support from the international human rights community. For this they have been harassed, beaten, tortured, publicly defamed, falsely accused of crimes and arrested.
Please convey to the President of the Republic of Mexico our solidarity with our sisters of Mujeres de Negro in their actions to achieve justice in this terrible situation. We call on him to assure cooperation of the government with the families and their advocates in ending the repressive actions against them immediately.
Thank you very much in advance for transmitting our message.
Asia-Japan Women’s Resource Center
14-10-311 Sakuragaoka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Tel: 03-3780-5245 Fax:03-3463-9752
Women in Black Tokyo
Amnesty International Japan
7th Floor, Ogasawara Bldg., 2-7 Kanda Tsukasa-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
cc: Mujeres de Negro/Justicia Para Nuestras Hijas
Río Soto La Marina #8204
Col. Alfredo Chávez
Chihuahua, Chih. México