Mexico: Release of Magdalena García Duran: a glimmer of hope for all Atenco detainees?

Amnesty International welcomes the release on 9 November of prisoner of conscience Magdalena García Durán, and calls on the state and federal authorities to acknowledge that the May 2006 police operation in Atenco has resulted in many unjust and unfounded judicial proceedings. Hundreds of people were detained during the protests in San Salvador Atenco and Texcoco on 3 and 4 May 2006.  Many of them suffered grave human rights violations committed during detention — including evidence of sexual abuse against at least 26 women.  Proceedings are still open against more than 150 people and 20 people are still being held for the same offences as those with which Magdalena García Durán was charged, and based on similar evidence as was presented against her. “Violations of the right to a fair trial and to due process, which Magdalena García Durán suffered, continue against many of the others who were also detained in San Salvador Atenco and Texcoco” said Rupert Knox, Mexico researcher. Amnesty International calls on the authorities to undertake an immediate review of the cases of all those who are still being held and ensure that no one else suffers the injustices that Magdalena García Durán endured during more than a year and a half in detention. Magdalena García Durán was released on the night of 9 November from Molino de las Flores prison in Texcoco, Mexico state, after the authorities complied with the terms of the most recent injunction (amparo) granted by the courts on 16 October 2007.  This decision concluded that there was no evidence against Magdalena García Durán to justify her detention and prosecution for the offences with which she was charged: kidnapping and attacks on public roads.. Magdalena García Duran was detained arbitrarily, ill treated and prosecuted without justification for having been in San Salvador Atenco on 4 May 2006.  She and her family have protested her innocence from the very beginning; yet they had to endure more than 18 months’ imprisonment before she was released. “The Mexican authorities must provide reparations to Magdalena and her family for the prolonged, violent and arbitrary detention as well as investigate and bring to justice those responsible,” said Rupert Knox. General Information On 3 and 4 May 2006, around 3,000 federal, state and municipal police took part in an operation to halt protests led by a peasant farmers’ organization, Peoples’ Front in Defence of the Land (Frente de Pueblos en Defensa de la Tierra, FPDT) in Texcoco and San Salvador Atenco in the State of Mexico.  The police operation resulted in the arrest of 207 people, the death of two civilians, dozens of injured protesters and police, and a number of police being held hostage. The National Supreme Court is currently carrying out a non-jurisdictional investigation into these events. Amnesty International recognizes the State’s responsibility to guarantee public order and the need to prosecute those who carried out acts of violence during the disturbances in Texcoco and San Salvador Atenco on 3 and 4 May 2006, but also insists on the need to guarantee human rights at all times.  It is essential that the human rights of all persons who are detained and prosecuted are upheld, protected and guaranteed including, in particular, the right to the presumption of innocence, the right to an impartial hearing, procedural equality between the defence and the prosecution and the right to be tried without undue delay. For more information see “Mexico: Violence against women and justice denied in Mexico State” at