José Luis and César are sentenced in the trial for defending their territory from militarization

A conviction is handed down in the criminal proceeding against José Luis and César for defending their territory from militarization.

On May 3, 2023, Judge Agustín López Martínez, Prosecuting Judge of Region Three of the Judicial District of Ocosingo, handed down a sentence that sentenced the defenders of the Tzeltal territory of the municipality of Chilón to 2 years in prison.

The Judiciary of the State of Chiapas joins the criminalization of community human rights defenders.

On October 15, 2020, during the peaceful demonstration actions before the construction of the National Guard headquarters in the community territory of San Sebastián Bachajón, César Hernández Feliciano (César) and José Luis Gutiérrez Hernández (José Luis) Tzeltal Mayans from the town of Chilón and human rights defenders were repressed by state police, as well as tortured and held incommunicado; 11 more people were injured.

The oral trial of José Luis and César, defenders of the territory, began on April 24, 2023. During the development of the different hearings, it was possible to demonstrate the lack of solid evidence to prove the crime of riot for which the Chiapas State Prosecutor’s Office has been accusing them since 2020; the witnesses presented did not prove that they belonged to the State Police nor that they participated in the protest of October 15, 2020, when communities of San Sebastián Bachajón and San Jerónimo Bachajón opposed the construction of a National Guard barracks in their indigenous territory without having been previously consulted. Likewise, the Prosecutor’s Office did not demonstrate the quality of neither legal nor forensic experts in their field during the investigation that supported the statements made by the elements accusing the community defenders.

We the undersigned organizations express our collective solidarity and regret the decision of Judge Agustín López Martínez, Trial Judge of Region Three, Judicial District of Ocosingo, to issue a 2-year sentence that criminalizes the defense of land and territory to the detriment of the rights to autonomy and self-determination of indigenous peoples. We call on the Chiapas state government to stop the criminalization and prosecution of human rights defenders and defenders of life.

Frayba Contacts

Dora Roblero, Frayba Director: +52 967 134 0759;

Regional Team North Zone: +52 967 141 0420

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