Hearings in the Inter-American Human Rights Court, known as CIDH by its Spanish acronym, on the case of three young women murdered in Ciudad Juárez in 2001 concluded on April 29 in Santiago, Chile. Esmeralda Herrera Monreal, Claudia Ivette González and Laura Berenice Ramos Monárrez were found dead in a cotton field outside the city in November 2001 showing signs they had been tortured and raped.
The case was presented to the CIDH in November of last year by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which charged the Mexican government with “a lack of prevention and negligence” in the three femicides, along with an estimated 400 more since 1993. Families of the victims and other advocates have long spoken out against institutional violence and negligence on the part of Mexican law enforcement officials that they say continue to contribute to femicides in Juárez and beyond.
Specifically, the Commission charged the Mexican government with violating the women’s right to life, and their right to access to the justice system, as outlined in the American Convention on Human Rights. It also leveled the charge of permitting the existence of violence against women, thus breaking with the Inter-American Convention for Preventing, Sanctioning and Eradicating Violence against Women, also known as the Convention of Belem do Pará.
The Spanish attorney representing the three women’s families expressed his satisfaction that their voices had been heard by the court, and that Mexico will be compelled to respond. Around 50 civil organizations from Mexico and other countries signed and sent a petition to the court urging it to recognize the “grave and persistent violations of human rights of women that the Mexican state has incurred.”
For their part, Alejandro Negrín, director of human rights and democracy for Mexico’s State Department, and Patricia González Rodríguez, attorney general of the state of Chihuahua, acknowledged that there were omissions and irregularities in the investigations surrounding the deaths of the three women at issue in this case along with many more. Nonetheless, their case focused on attempting to demonstrate to the court that since 2004 Mexico has employed its judicial, police, and administrative institutions in making honest efforts to impart justice in cases of gender violence. González told the court that Mexican authorities had established the identities of two suspects in the killings of two of the women, and that 201 Juárez femicides have resulted in sentences, claims that mothers of the three victims present at the hearing flatly denied. The CIDH requested that the Mexican government provide it with detailed accounts of those trials.
Both sides must now submit their respective cases in writing to the CIDH by June 1 of this year. A decision by the court, which could include sanctions for the Mexican government, is expected by November of this year.
Marín, Francisco. “Concluyen en Chile las audiencias por feminicidios en Juárez.” Proceso April 29, 2009.
Velasco C., Elizabeth. “Organizaciones internationales exigen pronunciamiento sobre Ciudad Juárez.” Reforma May 7, 2009.