Human Rights investigates the case of lawyer Susana Prieto, who faces her fourth week in preventive detention | International

Lawyer Susana Prieto during an interview in Ciudad Juárez on May 6.
Lawyer Susana Prieto during an interview in Ciudad Juárez on May 6.Reuters

Labor lawyer Susana Prieto Terrazas has been sleeping in prison for 22 days after an irregular arrest and crimes that are not considered serious and that have motivated the pronouncement in her favor by the federal government and various trade union and human rights organizations in Mexico. and other countries. Finally, the National Commission for Human Rights (CNDH) chaired by Rosario Piedra Ibarra has endorsed the case, that is, it will open an investigation file.

Prieto Terrazas (Ciudad Juárez, 1966) has focused his activism for years towards improving the labor rights of thousands of workers who work in factories on the Mexican border with the United States in precarious conditions and in the absence of union representation that protect them from business abuse. This dedication has earned him threats of all kinds, which resulted in an arrest on June 8 for events that occurred on March 10. He is accused of mutiny, threats and crimes against public servants in a concentration of workers in front of the Matamoros (Tamaulipas) Conciliation and Arbitration Board. They are not crimes that justify a preventive prison, but on two occasions Judge Rosalía Gómez Guerra has been asked to remove her while she awaits trial and twice the petition has been rejected alleging a possible flight from the State of Tamaulipas, in which he resides with his family. In this same sense, the Secretary of Labor, Luisa Alcalde, has recently spoken in a statement urging the impartiality of the process “preventing the justice administration from penalizing social activism.” The Ministry of Labor calls for procedural guarantees so that the lawyer “can continue her defense in freedom, since for the crimes of which she is accused the law does not establish informal preventive detention.” Equally forceful are the communiqués of the human rights commission.

The third hearing with the judge was scheduled last Friday, but in the prison the electrical system fell, they said, and the videoconference could not be held. Prieto Terrazas is incarcerated from Ciudad Victoria, the capital of Tamaulipas, although she was detained in the city where she lives with her family, Matamoros, on the northern border. On July 1, an attempt will be made to resume that process.

Last Friday, the lawyer’s daughter had the opportunity to meet with the head of the CNDH, a visit from which they left with a very good impression. They asked Rosario Piedra Ibarra to review the precautionary prison and to grant him the protection mechanism that the Mexican Government reserves for activists and journalists for the difficulties and dangers of their work. “The CNDH has already recognized the activism carried out by Susana Prieto Terrazas in favor of human and workers’ rights, now all that remains is for the mechanism to be activated, which would influence to avoid this irregular detention, something that depends on the Ministry of the Interior” , explains family spokeswoman Alina Alvidrez. The labor lawyer had already applied for this protection in March 2019 due to the threats she suffered. Their task is annoying for the large companies established on the northern border of Mexico, which feed on cheap, almost slave labor, and devoid of labor rights.

Prieto Terrazas has spent years urging workers to join forces, organize and claim their share. “We exposed before the head of the CNDH that the violation of Susana Prieto’s right to work leaves thousands of workers she represents as a trial lawyer defenseless,” says the family spokeswoman.

The persistent and fierce lawyer, can receive the visit of her husband three times a week, which guarantees her a special diet that she requires due to her hypertension, explains the spokesperson, adding: “She is fine, but sometimes he falls into despair, because almost three weeks after his confinement, he does not see clarity or the will to get out. “

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