No. 27/01

The President of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Dean Claudio Grossman, has expressed his repudiation of the murder of attorney and human rights activist Digna Ochoa in her office in Mexico City on Friday, October 19, 2001.


Her work had brought threats and attacks on her on several occasions, leading the IACHR and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to grant attorney Ochoa and several other persons working for the Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez (PRODH) Human Rights Center in Mexico precautionary and provisional measures.  Those protection mechanisms are contemplated in the American Convention on Human Rights and in the Rules of Procedure of the IACHR, respectively, in cases of extreme gravity and urgency to avoid irreparable damage to persons.


          Dean Grossman stated:


Acts of this kind are totally unacceptable and warrant the utter repudiation of bodies protecting human rights and society as a whole.  Digna Ochoa was committed to forging a democratic society with complete respect for the rights of the individual, so that her death fills us with grief and a personal feeling of indignation.  I offer my heartfelt condolences to the relatives and friends of Digna Ochoa and assure them that, as the Rapporteur responsible for Mexico, I shall very closely monitor the Mexican authorities’ investigation of this extremely grave case.


The IACHR issues a reminder that the member states of the OAS, at their General Assembly in Costa Rica in June 2001, adopted resolution AG/RES. 1818 (XXXI-O/01) which resolved, among inter alia:


To deplore acts that directly or indirectly prevent or hamper the work of human rights defenders in the Americas.


To urge member states to step up their efforts to adopt the necessary measures, in keeping with their domestic law and with internationally accepted principles and standards, to guarantee the life, personal safety, and freedom of expression of human rights defenders.



To instruct the Permanent Council to follow up on this resolution and to report to the General Assembly at its thirty-second regular session on its implementation.


The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has reported the extrajudicial execution of Digna Ochoa to the OAS Permanent Council.


The Executive Secretary of the Commission, Dr. Santiago A. Canton, also expressed his total repudiation of the murder of the Mexican human rights activist.


The murder of Digna Ochoa is an affront to the inter-American community.  When defenders of human rights themselves become victims, democratic society as a whole is under attack. We must not allow this crime to go unpunished.




Washington, D.C., October 22, 2001