Target: Lic. César Duarte Jáquez, Governor of Chihuahua State
Goal: Ensure the safety of recently-released torture victim and fully investigate allegations of torture
The good news: the Mexican Supreme Court recently ordered the release of torture victim Israel Arzate Meléndez, who was charged in the deaths of fifteen people. The only evidence linking him to the crime was a confession he made under torture. The bad news: local authorities are still “[encouraging] the public to believe that Israel Arzate Meléndez is involved in the killings, despite the absence of evidence,” and human rights organizations like Amnesty International fear for his and his family’s safety. Sign the petition and demand that authorities in Chihuahua offer protection to Israel Azarte Meléndez and his family, and call for an immediate investigation into not only Meléndez’s allegations of torture but also the crime he is accused of committing.
Despite the fact that the Supreme Court has thrown out Meléndez’s confession (the sole piece of evidence linking him to the killings), prosecutors in Chihuahua have insisted that they still have ample evidence to prosecute Meléndez. He has, however, been released, since apparently none of this so-called ample evidence is quite substantial enough to keep Meléndez in prison. What it has done, however, is ignite public sentiment against Meléndez, putting both him and his family at risk of violence and reprisals.
In 2011, an investigation by the National Human Rights Commission found that Meléndez had indeed been tortured. Meléndez reports that he was subjected to “beatings, electric shocks, semi-asphyxiation and death threats against his family.” In spite of the NHRC’s finding, authorities have still refused to launch an investigation into the incident or prosecute those responsible. Meléndez has pointed the finger at “soldiers and state officials,” alleging that he was arbitrarily arrested in addition to being tortured. In the meantime, no other suspects have been brought forward for the crime Meléndez has been accused of committing.
Torture is unacceptable under any circumstances, and raising dangerous public sentiment against a man who may well be innocent is equally despicable. Sign the petition and call for a full investigation into both Israel Arzate Melendez’s allegations of torture and the crime of which he is accused, and urge the authorities in Chihuahua to bring the true perpetrators of both to justice. Demand protection for Israel Arzate Meléndez and his family.
The Mexican Supreme Court recently ruled that a confession obtained under torture is not a legitimate confession. For Israel Arzate Meléndez, this meant an end to a years-long imprisonment, in which his coerced confession was the only evidence that linked him to the killings of fifteen people. However, Meléndez and his family are at great risk for violence, as local authorities have continued to incite public sentiment against him and insist that he is the true killer. I demand that Chihuahuan authorities stand by the Supreme Court’s decision–in both letter and spirit–and respect Israel Arzate Melendez’s human rights by offering him protection now that he is out of prison. I also demand that a full investigation into both Melendez’s allegations of torture and the crime of which he stands accused, and I call on the authorities to bring those responsible for both to justice.
Meléndez has accused both soldiers and state officials of violating his human rights through arbitrary detention and torture; he claims to have suffered “beatings, electric shocks, semi-asphyxiation and death threats against his family,” Amnesty International reports. A medical examination by the National Human Rights Commission in 2011 confirmed that Meléndez had indeed been the victim of torture. Despite the fact that his “confession” was the only evidence linking Meléndez to the crime, authorities have continued to present him as the perpetrator to the public and have not named any other suspects.
Encouraging vigilante retribution against a man who may well be innocent is beyond horrifying. Possibly letting the real killer walk free is similarly appalling. And ignoring proven instances of torture is unsettling, disgusting, and so very wrong. I urge Chihuahua to address these grave injustices. Offer protection to Israel Arzate Meléndez and his family. Reopen the investigation into the 2010 killing of fifteen people in Villas de Salvárcar, Juárez City. And launch a full inquiry into Meléndez’s accusations of torture. Pursue justice, not an easy conviction.
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Photo credit: Lyricmac via Wikimedia Commons