Supreme Court Decides Cacho’s Rights Not Violated Enough

A screen shot from the film The fight for press freedom in Mexico was dealt a serious blow this week after the country’s Supreme Court found that the rights of journalist Lydia Cacho were not violated enough by the state governor of Puebla, Mario Marin, for action to be taken against him.

The Court rejected a report by its own Commission on Tuesday that found that Marin and 29 of his officials had conspired to violate Cacho’s rights. Its ten judges voted 6-4 yesterday that although there was evidence of criminal acts, and some rights violations did take place, they did not meet the ‘standards necessary’ for the court to recommend action to be taken.

The decision has infuriated the journalistic community and human rights groupsin Mexico, who after Tuesday’s recommendations from the Commission were optimistic that Marin would be taken to task for his role in the mistreatment and harassment of Cacho.

On hearing the outcome of the case, Cacho said: “The court’s decision is a defeat for Mexican journalists who inform the public and investigate cases linked to human-trafficking.

“The judges are sending a message to the country that cases of this kind will not even be brought before the courts.”

But despite its refusal to order action against Marin, the Supreme Court said that local courts and prosecutors were welcome to use the facts and evidence to seek justice.

Marin issued a statement saying that he was satisfied with the decision. “I’ve never committed any crime, just like I’ve maintained ever since this case was opened 19 months ago,” he said.

Cacho was arrested by Puebla police on December 16th 2005 in her home state of the Yucatan following the publication of her book called Los Demonios Del Eden, in which she alleged the Cancun-based businessman Jean Succar Kuri was the leader of a pedophile ring that involved luring young and poor girls to his home so that he and his friends could have sex with them. She also linked a number of state officials and other businessmen to the shady network.

Following the publication of the book, Cacho was arrested on December 16th 2005. She said in an interview with the website Mother Jones:

“I was arrested on the 16th at 12 o’clock. Probably two o’clock in the morning, the police stopped by a beach and told me I was going to jump in the ocean and die there, that they were going to rape me—and all these things, all these psychological forms of torture. But then they received a phone call. The caller told them to stop it and take me to Puebla.”

After a brief detention, Cacho was released and became the first woman in the country to file a federal suit against a governor, district attorney and a judge for corruption and attempted rape in prison.

One of the main stumbling blocks in the case against Marin was that the strongest pieces of evidence of his role in the arrest and maltreatment of Cacho was caught on a phone conversation that was recorded without warrant, and therefore judged inadmissible by the court.

In the phone conversations which were revealed by the daily La Jornada and broadcast on W Radio between Marin and local businessman Kamel Nacif, a friend of Jean Succar Kuri, on 14 February 2006, the governor and the company boss suggested “jokingly” that the journalist should be raped during the transfer, according to Reporters Without Borders.

On the tape Nacif Borge calls Marin “my precious governor,” and Marin calls the businessman “my hero” as the two celebrate Cacho’s arrest.

“Lydia was the target of constant threats, attacks, and murder attempts culminating in a brief detention in 2005, ever since her 2004 exposure of the existence of a pedophile network implicating top-level figures,” said a statement issued by Reporters Without Borders today.

“The epilogue of this serious case constitutes a disturbing precedent for press freedom and human rights in Mexico”.

Reports from La Jornada and El Universal.

Click here for more stories on Lydia Cacho and here for the issue of violence against journalists.

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One Response

  1. Lydia Cacho, journalist and human rights activist was accused of defamation and slander after the publishing of her book where a network of child molesters was uncovered. During her detention, she was victim of torture and numerous due process of law violations with the direct participation of the state authorities of Puebla. After a twenty months investigation undertook by the Supreme Court, the Judges decided that the human rights violations were not proved.

    On November 29th the Supreme Court voted against the special report presented on the case of Lydia Cacho, that gave count of several human rights violations and systematic gender based violence orchestrated by the Governor of the State of Puebla, Mario Marin. Supreme Court Judge Juan Silva Meza, who was in charge of the investigation, concluded that Mrs. Cacho was victim of serious human rights violations, including psychological torture and numerous due process violations. Nonetheless the Supreme Court overthrown the findings of the investigation 6 to 4 votes, constituting a mayor set back on freedom of expression in Mexico.
    ARTICLE 19 regrets the Court decision to withdraw Judge’s Silva Meza conclusion and reiterate Mexico’s responsibility to investigate and prosecute human rights violations.
    Aggression against journalists enjoys one main objective, that is to silence the messenger. Lydia Cacho overcome the violence and fear an stepped up before the Court and pointed out her aggressors, but as in many similar cases in the country the Mexican State has been unable to provided justice. Impunity had become the biggest threat on freedom of expression in the country and the Mexican State has yet to fulfill its international obligations under international law.
    ARTICLE 19, express its solidarity with Mrs. Cacho and call upon the international community to support her in the struggle against impunity and the full realization of freedom of expression in Mexico
    Intimidation of journalists, particularly murder and physical attacks, limit the freedom of expression of all citizens, because they produce a chilling effect on the free flow of information, due to the fear they create of reporting on abuses of power, illegal activities and other wrongs against society.
    After the Court’s decision, justice still pending. ARTICLE 19 calls upon the Mexican State to undertake the necessary measures to protect the fundamental rights of Mrs. Cacho and the rest of the journalist that have suffered persecution in the exercise of freedom of expression.

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