Letter to the President of Mexico Regarding the Intimidation of the Mexican Human Rights Group PRODH

Monday, November 08 1999

His Excellency Mr. Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León
President of the Republic of Mexico
Palacio Nacional
Patio de Honor 1er piso
Colonia Centro
Méxoco, D.F. 06067

Dear Mr. President:

During the last two months the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has received serious and disturbing reports of kidnaping, robbery and death threats against staff members of a Mexican human rights organization, the Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez Human Rights Centre (PRODH). This pattern of intimidation deeply disturbs our Episcopal Conference, since Canadian Churches highly respect the work of this organization and have collaborated closely with this Centre over the past number of years. Indeed, only last month, a staff member of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops carried out an extensive visit to this Centre, speaking with several staff members and the Director, Father Edgar Cortez, SJ.

Most recently, a staff person of the PRODH, Ms. Digna Ochoa, was attacked at her home, tied up and interrogated for over eight hours by several men. The next morning, October 29th, staff arrived to work at the PRODH and found their building had been broken into, their offices ransacked and looted.

The Human Rights Committee of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops respectfully calls upon the Government of Mexico, as a signatory to the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, to guarantee the security of the staff of this Centre. Additionally, we would recommend that a full investigation of these incidents be quickly and thoroughly conducted, so that the perpetrators are arrested and brought to trial.

In taking the liberty of copying this letter to your Ambassador to Canada and to the Canadian Minister for Foreign Affairs, our Committee and Conference look forward to hearing about the progress that Mexico is making to protect and encourage the immensely important work of human rights centers such as PRODH.


Msgr. Peter Schonenbach, P.H.
Human Rights Committee
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

c.c.:  Mr. Ezequiel Padilla Couttolenc
Ambassador to Mexico

Honourable Lloyd Axworthy
Canadian Minister for Foreign Affairs