Sample Letter: Urgent Alert Mexico July 2010

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Dear [Lic. Acosta Muñoz] [Lic. Reyes Baeza],

I am writing to express my concern regarding the raid of Sin Violencia A.C., a maximum security shelter for women fleeing from situations of violence, on 9 June 2010 by 14 state agents, many of whom were armed. The raid was led by a court clerk bearing a letter from the First Judge of the Bravos Judicial District Family Court, Lic. Guadalupe Manuel de Santiago Aguayo, authorizing the use of force to take immediate custody of a minor girl who was not even present at the shelter. The state officials threatened the shelter staff and terrorized the extremely vulnerable resident women and children.

The actions of these state officials blatantly violated Mexico’s General Law on Women’s Access to a Life Free of Violence, which is applicable in the State of Chihuahua and is hailed internationally as a landmark law that comprehensively and holistically addresses all forms of violence against women. This law requires all levels of government to encourage the establishment and maintenance of shelters for victims and their children; acknowledges the need to keep the location of such shelters confidential and prevent unauthorized persons from accessing such shelters; and addresses instances of violence against women by public officials. Mexico’s obligations under its own laws are further reinforced by its international commitments under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women.

In line with the spirit and the letter of the General Law on Women’s Access to a Life Free of Violence, I respectfully urge you to take disciplinary action against the government officials involved in the raid on the shelter and prosecute and punish them to the fullest extent of the law. To avoid such occurrences in the future, please ensure that relevant government officials are thoroughly trained in the implementation of this General Law, including in their own conduct towards victims of violence and their defenders.

Respectfully yours,