Nestora Salgado’s Arrest “Illegal and Arbitrary”: UN Group on Arbitrary Detention


Proceso, 3rd February 2016.

A United Nations panel has determined that Nestora Salgado’s arrest in August 2013 was due to her activities with the community police, protected by Mexican law; therefore, the arrest is illegal and arbitrary. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, in Geneva, Switzerland, reached its conclusions last December, but they were announced yesterday by Salgado’s lawyers.

The panel noted that the activist was not allowed contact with lawyers and family for almost a year, and during her time in prison was denied adequate medical care and access to clean water. The five-member panel called her arrest arbitrary and noted that Mexico should not only release her, but compensate her for violation of her human rights. The UN group stated: "First, there is no doubt that her arrest and detention without [demonstrated] charges is illegal and therefore arbitrary. It is also worrisome that the Army arrested a civilian for alleged crimes, when national security was not at risk."

Thomas Antkowiak, director of the International Human Rights Clinic at the Law School of the University of Seattle, said that the determination has no legal force in Mexico, but could increase pressure for her release. [Salgado is a naturalized U.S. citizen and resided in Washington state.] The clinic took her case to the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. Antkowiak argued: "This is a very important channel for applying political pressure. We have an impartial and international panel saying she was illegally detained. I think it’s an important step."

He added: "We have been in negotiations with the government of Mexico, principally with the federal government, but that has not led us anywhere. We hope this will inject new life into the negotiations."

He noted that the Clinic also plans to ask the State Department to advocate for the release of Nestora Salgado, accused of kidnapping in connection with the arrest of several teenagers who were suspected of trafficking drugs, and a local official who allegedly tried to steal a cow at the scene of a double homicide.

Antkowiak said that Nestora "has suffered more than two years of illegal detention without evidence presented against her or a trial being held. She is a political prisoner."

Translated by Jane Brundage

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