More than 9,000 Indigenous People Are Imprisoned in Mexico
Indigenous women attend a mass celebrated by Pope Francis in San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico. | Photo: Reuters
Most of the imprisoned Indigenous have no access to proper legal services or protections.
At least 9,000 Indigenous people are imprisoned in Mexico, and most of them are innocent, said the head of the National Commission for the Development of Indigenous Peoples during a meeting with the ombudsman, the interior minister and the foreign affairs minister.
The information is particularly alarming since last year the same government agency said there were at least 8,000 Indigenous people in jails and that most of them did not have a “proper legal process,” including a bilingual defence to understand what their charges were. Also, 96 percent of them were men imprisoned for minor offenses.
The commission also reported in 2014 that 1,693 Indigenous people were released thanks to an investment that allowed more than 576 interpreters and translators of Indigenous languages to be hired. However, this figure has been reversed according to new data compiled.
Mexico has one of the most diverse Indigenous populations in Latin America. According to the official, figures more than 14.8 million people in Mexico (around 12.25 percent of the population) are Indigenous, speaking over 60 languages.
Despite government efforts to improve the life of Indigenous communities, most of them still experience marginalization or discrimination and continue to be disadvantaged and vulnerable, around 72 percent are considered impoverished.
Over the past years, NGO’s and human rights agencies have denounced the arbitrary detention and conviction of innocent Indigenous people in Mexico under the most absurd charges. Most of the arrests are conducted because authorities consider them to look "suspicious."
Probably the most famous case in recent years was the one of Jacinta Francisco Marcial, an Otomí Indigenous woman who was accused of kidnapping six armed federal agents. No kidnapping took place and there is no evidence to support such a claim, yet she was convicted for three years. She was eventually released thanks to the international pressure, however not all the imprisoned Indigenous people in Mexico have the same luck.
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