Friendly Settlement in the Inter-American System for Human Rights Protection: the Case of Mariana Selva Gómez et al vs Mexico.

In early May 2006 and after some protests by members of an organization for the defense of agricultural lands in San Salvador Atenco, Estado de Mexico (a state inside Mexico, north of Mexico City), security forces from the Federal Police, state police and local police forces, arrested, tortured and imprisoned farmers who belonged to different organizations for the defense of their lands. The security forces broke into the houses where rioters and protesters had taken refuge, as well as into houses of people who had nothing to do with them. The violence that ensued saw two people dead, including a minor, over 200 detainees, at least 47 women raped and sexually abused, arbitrary detentions, and even the expulsion of several foreigners.

The women who were sexually abused were also beaten repeatedly, threatened and humiliated by the police officers who had arrested them. When they arrived to the prison, the authorities did not let them file complaints for the treatment received, and the medical doctors who examined them refused to acknowledge the rapes. Afterwards, when they took the case to the local, and later federal, authorities, they were told they were lying and again refused to investigate and prosecute. The federal Office of the Prosecutor for Crimes of Violence Against Women and Trafficking of People declared itself incompetent to investigate the case and sent it back to the state authorities (Centro PRODH).

In light of this ostensible lack of political will to investigate and prosecute rape and other violations to their human rights, eleven women decided to take their complaint to the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights. The case, known as Case 12.846 – Mariana Selva Gómez et al vs Mexico, was admitted in November 2011 and the first hearing took place in March 2013. At the end of the hearing, the representative of the state of Mexico requested the support of the Commission to reach an agreement with the petitioners through the process of friendly settlement. The petitioners rejected the offer, since rape was a form of torture used against them, and the state has remained impassive.

This is from a paper I wrote on the friendly settlement procedure as established in the Inter-American System for the protection of human rights. I used the case of the Atenco women to illustrate why the procedure is not always the best way to solve human rights violations. You can read the whole paper here.



Acerca de Xalaila

Licenciada en Relaciones Internacionales, próxima Maestra en Terrorismo y Seguridad, activista en derechos humanos, feminista.
Esta entrada fue publicada en derechos humanos, México, mujeres, política, violencia y etiquetada , . Guarda el enlace permanente.

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