06/07/11 – On Sunday June 5, Mexican federal police allegedly raided the office of the Paso del Norte Human Rights Center (Centro del Derechos Humanos Paso del Norte, CDHPN) in Ciudad Juárez by ransacking files in the middle of the night. CDHPN, which formed ten years ago, is one of the organizations in charge of organizing for the upcoming protest for peace led by poet Javier Sicilia that will be making its way to the border. Priest and director of the organization, Oscar Enríquez, said that the door locks and windows of the building were broken. According to El Paso Times, five patrol cars were stationed outside of the Paso del Norte Human Rights Center for about 20 minutes Sunday night. There were no staff members in the office at the time of the break in, but employees were notified by their neighbors who also took down the numbers of the police vehicles. It is also reported that the center’s interior offices, drawers, and file cabinets appeared to be sifted through. It is not yet known if any files were taken from the center or what the motive may have been, but Enríquez believes that it is a form of intimidation for human rights defenders to do their work. Ruben L. Garcia, executive director of the organization, stated that “they will not be intimidated and that they will continue to ask for resolutions to the violence that has taken control of Mexico.”
In a report issued by Human Rights Watch, it is now calling on immediate action of Mexican federal prosecutors to investigate the raid by the Mexican police. Americas director of Human Rights Watch, José Miguel Vivanco, stated that “warrantless searches violate citizens’ basic right to privacy.” He also noted that by targeting human rights defenders it creates an environment of intimidation.
In response to the critisism, the federal police issued a statement saying that “they were chasing suspected drug dealers when they entered the Paso del Norte Human Rights Center.” The police also negated that there was a raid, saying that the officers only searched the Human Rights Center for the suspects. The police did arrest two men, one 16 year old and one 23 year old, who were in posssession of marijuana and cocaine.