Mexico – Detention of human rights defender Mr Nataniel Hernández Núñez

18 March 2011

On 15 March 2011, human rights defender Mr Nataniel Hernández Núñez was arrested and detained in Tapachula de Córdova y Ordoñez, Chiapas State. Nataniel Hernández Núñez is the director of the Centro de Derechos Humanos Digna Ochoa (Digna Ochoa Human Rights Centre), a non-profit civil association based in the Istmo region of Chiapas which works to promote civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, as well as providing legal advice.

It is reported that Nataniel Hernández Núñez was in Tapachula de Córdova y Ordoñez accompanying five community members who had sought his intervention and support, four of whom were detained prior to the arrest of the human rights defender. Nataniel Hernández Núñez had been investigating the situation of the detained individuals in the compound of the First District Court when, at approximately 20:00, a federal arrest warrant was issued against him on charges of obstructing the public rights of way. The charges against him stem from an investigation launched in 2010 relating to his role in the observation of a protest which took place on 11 April 2010 in which protesters blocked the road between Pijijiapan and Tonalá. Nataniel Hernández Núñez was first made aware of the charges against him on 11 June 2010 (see Front Line Urgent Appeal dated 18 June 2010: http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/es/node/6048).

Recently, on 22 February 2011, Nataniel Hernández Núñez was arrested along with 18 other individuals and charged with rioting. Nataniel Hernández Núñez was also charged with extortion. Nataniel Hernández Núñez and the other 18 individuals were released on 2 March, but the penal process has since remained open.

Front Line believes that the detention of Nataniel Hernández Núñez is directly related to his legitimate and peaceful work in defence of human rights. Front Line further believes that these acts reflect a context of ongoing acts of judicial harassment against Nataniel Hernández Núñez.

Front Line urges the authorities in Mexico to:

1. Immediately and unconditionally release Nataniel Hernández Núñez and drop all charges against him, as it is believed that the measures taken against him relate solely to his legitimate and peaceful work in defence of human rights;
2. Guarantee in all circumstances that human rights defenders in Mexico are able to carry out their legitimate and peaceful human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.

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