As I reported last week, in Baja California, there are at least 14 women currently in prison on remand charged with murder after their pregnancies ended before gestation was complete. This number includes at least one woman who insists that she suffered a miscarriage. This woman, Lesly Karina Díaz Zamora, who is now 21, is already the mother of a five year old child (you can see a video –in Spanish– about the case here). Lesly was arrested at the hospital she had gone to looking for medical attention in the summer of 2008, and was later remanded in custody without bail. She was finally sentenced on 20 January to a 23 year custodial sentence after already having passed more than two years already in detention. She is currently appealing this sentence on the grounds that the prosecution were unable to prove intentionality and the investigation against her did not follow due process. The other accused face similar sentences and have also all been refused bail.
The maximum tariff allowed by Baja Californian law for the crime of abortion is 4 years. In common with the other women in prison, Lesly was accused of murder in accordance with the amendment of the state constitution that defines life as beginning at conception.
This week women’s right groups, led by the Red Iberoamericana Pro Derechos Humanos (Ibero American Network for Human Rights); the Federación de Mujeres Universitarias (Federation of University Women); the Coordinación Nacional de Mujeres por un Milenio Feminista de Baja California (National Coordination for a Feminist Millennium in Baja California); and the Comisión Ciudadana de Derechos Humanos del Noroeste (Citizens’ Committee for Human Rights in the North-West) have undertaken a number of events to campaign for the release of Lesly.
At the moment they are circulating a petition to be presented to the governor of Baja California, José Guadaulpe Osuna Millán; the state’s Procurador General de Justicia (Chief Prosecuting Officer), Rommel Moreno Manjarrez; the Human Rights Commissioner for the State of Baja California, Heriberto García García; and the Prosecuting Officer for Mexicali, María Elena Andrade Ramírez to demand that Lesly be released on the grounds that her human rights were not respected during the investigation or her sentencing. The following is a translation of the petition:
We, the undersigned citizens and organizations wish to express our profound indignation at the persecution and criminalisation of Lesly, a 21 year-old young woman from Mexicali, who has been sentenced to 23 years in prison.
Punished for the crime of homicidio agravada por parentesco (aggravated murder by reason of relationship), Lesly’s case is yet one more of series in which women’s fundamental rights and liberties have been violated leading to their unjustified imprisonment. A recent example of this occurring is in the state of Guanajuato.
We are directing this petition to you as members of bodies involved in this injustice, since you should play a fundamental part in assuring that these offices respect Lesly’s right to equality and to freedom from discrimination.
As a result of the above, we make an urgent appeal for:
The Human Rights Commissioner for the State of Baja California, Heriberto García García to make the relevant recommendation for an inquiry into the human rights violations to which Lesly has been subjected.
The Prosecuting Officer for Mexicali, María Elena Andrade Ramírez to revise and investigate the sentence passed against Lesly in Mexicali by the presiding judge of its 4th District, taking into account the testimonies of abuse presented by lawyers acting in her defence.
The Governor of the state of Baja California, José Guadalupe Osuna Millán, to do all that is in his power to order Lesly’s immediate release.
We wish to ensure that the Mexican state respects the secular nature and human rights enshrined in our Constitution; as well as the international treaties Mexico has signed concerning human rights.
Immediate freedom for Lesly!
You can add your signature to the petition here.