U.N. human rights authorities condemn treatment of Nestora Salgado

March 16, 2015

Seven United Nations human rights experts have appealed to the Government of Mexico to protect Nestora Salgado-García, the Renton woman who has been imprisoned in Mexico and is represented by the law school's International Human Rights Clinic.

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The chair of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the Special Rapporteurs on Torture, Health, Violence Against Women, Human Rights Defenders, Independence of Judges and Lawyers, and Indigenous Peoples all signed the urgent action petition delivered to the Mexican Government.

Tom Antkowiak"These prestigious U.N. experts have issued a rare joint communication," said Professor Thomas Antkowiak, director of the International Human Rights Clinic, which has led international litigation on Salgado's behalf. "They analyzed the information that we presented and all agree that her most fundamental rights are at grave risk: her life, health, indigenous culture, and due process, among others."

The U.N. urgent appeal comes only weeks after the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights also called on Mexico to act immediately to protect the "life and physical integrity" of Salgado. The Washington, D.C.-based Commission issued precautionary measures in response to Salgado's alarming detention conditions and deteriorating health. She has been illegally detained by Mexican authorities in a maximum-security prison for nearly 18 months.

Federal criminal charges against Salgado were dismissed in March of last year. However, she has remained in custody on state charges, despite the fact that Guerrero's governor has called her a "political prisoner."

"Nestora has never received due process in Mexico," stated co-counsel Alejandra Gonza. "The State has never presumed her innocence, Guerrero courts have not responded to our motions, and access to her is nearly impossible."

Nestora SalgadoSalgado was arrested in August 2013 for her courageous community work in the small indigenous village of Olinalá. Guerrero law and the Mexican Constitution guarantee the rights of indigenous communities to form their own justice and security institutions. Salgado was a leader of a community-policing group that legally forms part of state law enforcement, and had the express approval of Guerrero's governor.

Authorities abruptly changed position, however, when the group arrested a local official for committing a crime. Salgado was immediately seized by military forces and flown nearly 1,000 kilometers away to the prison of El Rincon, in Nayarit. She was denied visits from her chosen attorney for nearly a year.

Refused bail, Salgado has lived in solitary confinement 23-24 hours a day. She has also been denied necessary medical treatment and clean water. According to the Inter-American Commission, this "serious, urgent and irreparable situation" requires immediate action from Mexican authorities.

"We hope this international support will free my mother from that horrible prison," said Salgado's daughter Grisel Rodriguez, who still has not been allowed to visit her.