SAN JOSE – The Inter-American Court of Human Rights ordered the Mexican government to pay damages to two indigenous women raped by soldiers in 2002.
The Costa Rica-based court, a body of the Organization of American States, on Monday published on its Web page rulings against Mexico for the rapes of the Indian women Me’phaa Valentina Rosendo Cantu and Ines Fernandez Ortega, as well as for the lack of investigation by the authorities in both cases.
The court’s rulings are binding on OAS members.
Mexico was found to have violated the rights and personal integrity, dignity and autonomy of the two indigenous women, who lived in the municipality of Ayutla de Los Libres, in the southern state of Guerrero.
In both cases, the Court ordered Mexico to guarantee that the investigations would be conducted “with the knowledge of the civil jurisdiction” and “under no circumstances under military jurisdiction,” and that those found to be responsible would be punished.
In the case of Rosendo Cantu, the Court set at a total of $100,500 the indemnity to which she would be entitled for material damages, immaterial damages and trial costs, while the figure established was $128,000 in the case of Fernandez Ortega.
The Court also ordered Mexico “to modernize its legislation” so that human rights violations will not fall under military jurisdiction and so that “people affected by the intervention of military jurisdiction may have effective recourse to challenge it.”
The state also must take public action to acknowledge its international responsibility, authorize study scholarships for the victims and their children, and ensure that services to care for female victims of sexual violence “are provided by the designated institutions,” among other things.
Meanwhile, for its part, the Center for Justice and International Law, which acted as the legal representative of the victims, confirmed in a communique that the cases touch on current issues in Mexico such as “abuses caused by the militarization of public life, the lack of access to justice for women and the obstacles and threats that the defenders of indigenous people’s rights face.”
Mexico’s large-scale use of the military for law enforcement tasks in recent years has been accompanied by a multitude of complaints about rape, robbery and even murder on the part of soldiers. EFE