MEXICO: Arnulfo Cerón Soriano, Mexican lawyer and human rights defender found murdered
On November 20th 2019, Mexican lawyer Arnulfo Cerón Soriano, 47 years old and missing for 41 days, was found murdered, buried almost 3 meters deep in a clandestine tomb in El Aguaje in Tlapa, Guerrero, Mexico.
Arnulfo Cerón Soriano was a lawyer and human rights defender. He fought for the defense of the rights of indigenous peoples and for social rights. As a lawyer, he had worked with the Tlachinollan Mountain Human Rights Centre to defend the rights of indigenous peoples. He had also assisted parents in the case of the 43 missing students in Iguala (“43 from Ayotzinapa”) in 2014.
In 2000, Arnulfo was arbitrarily arrested, tortured and detained for a year and a half on charges of homicide. He had finally been cleared. In recent months, Arnulfo has been accompanying a group of street vendors expelled from downtown Tlapa de Comonfort by municipal decree.
The lawyer disappeared on October 11th 2019 at around 8pm as he was leaving his home for a conference in Tlapa. Since that day, the lawyer’s family and colleagues have been threatened. The research was only carried out late by the authorities under pressure from human rights organizations and the local population. So far, four people have been arrested in this open investigation for homicide.
The disappearance and murder of Arnulfo Cerón Soriano occurred in a context of ongoing violence against human rights defenders in the state of Guerrero. The disappearances and murders of human rights defenders occur in a context of almost total impunity.
The OIAD strongly condemns the disappearance and murder of Arnulfo Ceron Soriano.
The OIAD encourages the Mexican authorities to continue to search for the perpetrators of Arnulfo Cerón Soriano’s disappearance and death and to order protective measures for his family members and colleagues. The OIAD joins Amnesty International’s urgent action.
The OIAD expresses its solidarity with all Mexican lawyers and human rights defenders who put their lives at risk as a result of the legitimate exercise of their profession.
The OIAD reminds the Mexican authorities of the 1990 Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers adopted by the United Nations, which provides that “Where the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities” (Principle No. 17).