Press Release

IACHR Condemns Murder of Human Rights Defender in Mexico

March 20, 2012

Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the murder of Agnes Torres Sulca, a trans person and human rights defender of lesbians, gays, trans, bisexuals and intersex persons (LGTBI) in Mexico.

According to the information received by the IACHR, Agnes Torres Sulca took part in different groups and, among other actions to promote the rights of LGTBI persons, participated in the lobbying of bills before the National Assembly in the State of Puebla, Mexico. According to the information received, her body, allegedly presenting burns, was found on March 10, 2012 in Puebla.

The IACHR reminds the State of its obligation to investigate such acts of its own accord and to punish those responsible. The leaders of organizations that promote and defend the rights of LGTBI persons play a fundamental role in the region, both in terms of public oversight to ensure compliance with States’ obligations, as well as, in general terms, the promotion of human rights of LGTBI persons.

In its Second Report on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in the Americas, the IACHR noted the large number of reports regarding murders, threats and criminalization of activities carried out by human rights defenders of LGTBI persons, as well as the failure to take a differentiated approach to the investigation of violations of human rights committed against them. In this regard, the Report identified that a frequent obstacle to the proper investigation and punishment of those responsible for crimes committed against LGTBI persons is that most of them are classified as crimes of passion, and the investigation is not tailored to determining whether the crime was committed because of the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Additionally, the IACHR wishes to reiterate that the attacks on the life of human rights defenders, when committed in reprisal for a defender's actions, produces a chilling effect on those connected to the defense and promotion of human rights. The work of human rights defenders is critical for building a solid and lasting democratic society, and defenders play a leading role in the process to fully implement the rule of law and to strengthen democracy.

In this regard, the Inter-American Commission urges the State of Mexico to conduct an investigation that takes into account whether Agnes Torres’ murder was committed because of her gender identity and/or her work defending the rights of LGTBI persons. Additionally, the IACHR urges the Mexican State to immediately and urgently adopt all necessary measures to guarantee the rights of LGTBI persons and of those who defend their rights.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in a personal capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 32/12