WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas

(AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

20 Oct 2020 | News

Amicus Brief: Holding Mexico’s Military Accountable in Sexual Torture Case

The Tlachinollan Human Rights Center based in Guerrero, Mexico recently released a statement regarding the lack of progress in the cases of Inés Fernández Ortega y Valentina Rosendo Cantú, Indigenous women who were sexually tortured by members of the Mexican army in 2002. The Interamerican Court of Human Rights ruled against Mexico in 2010, but the Mexican government has not fully fulfilled the obligations laid out by the court in its judgement.

In a recent private compliance hearing, delegates from the Mexican government, commissioners from the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights, the victims, and their representatives from civil society groups came together to address the lack of progress in the Court’s judgement for the cases. 

The private hearing broadly addressed the partial implementation of several aspects of the judgement, including difficulties faced by the victims in denouncing the crimes, a protocol for investigating cases involving sexual violence, and preventative measures that could be taken to stop violence and discrimination against women. The victims specifically mentioned their concerns about a lack of progress in investigating the members of the military who violated their rights and budget cuts to institutions that serve women, particularly Mexico’s Indigenous women.

WOLA has advocated on behalf of the victims for the duration of the case, and Vice President of Programs and Director of Mexico and Migrant Rights Maureen Meyer recently submitted an amicus curiae to the Inter-American Court regarding the human rights implications of the militarization of public security in Mexico and continued gaps in investigating and prosecuting soldiers involved in human rights violations against civilians.

Ines and Valentina continue to seek justice ten years after the Court’s ruling and 18 years after the crimes occurred. To comply with the judgement, the Mexican government must address the shortcomings in the reforms to the military code of justice and the human rights implications of the militarization of public security in the country, while increasing support for communities in Guerrero and for programs and institutions that address violence against women, particularly Indigenous women.