Press Release

IACHR Condemns the Murder of Judge in Mexico

November 3, 2016

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María Isabel Rivero
IACHR Press and Communication Office
Tel: +1 (202) 370-9001

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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the murder in Mexico of judge Vicente Antonio Bermúdez Zacarías, who worked as a judge of the Fifth District in Lawsuits and Federal Civil Matters with headquarters in Toluca, Mexico. The IACHR urges the State of Mexico to investigate the crime and sanction those responsible.

According to publicly available information, on October 17, 2016, Vicente Antonio Bermúdez Zacarías was allegedly shot through the head in an area close to his residence in Metepec Municipality, in the State of Mexico. The information published by the media indicates that the judge had been in charge of several cases related to persons being accused and/or condemned for drug trafficking. The IACHR has received information regarding other cases of murders, aggressions and threats against judges in Mexico.

The IACHR takes note of the statement by Mexico’s President, Enrique Peña Nieto, who regretted the violent death of judge Vicente Antonio Bermúdez Zacarías and asked the Office of the Public Prosecutor (Procuraduría General de la República – PGR) to take the case, carry out the corresponding investigations and establish responsibilities. It is an obligation for the State to investigate on its own initiative events of this nature, and regarding this murder, the investigation’s hypothesis must include the possibility of the crime being related to the cases the judge had been in charge of.

For his part, the President of the Supreme Court of Mexico, Luis María Aguilar Morales, he pointed the importance of guaranteeing the safety of judges to enable them to work and make decisions impartially. In effect, it is indispensable that Mexico guarantees the safety of its justice operators, as otherwise the exercise of its jurisdictional functions can be severely affected, frustrating the access to justice. In this regard, the IACHR urges the State of Mexico to immediately and urgently adopt all the necessary measures in order to guarantee the right to life, integrity and safety of al judges and justice operators in the country.

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 area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 162/16