Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Almost 700 years of prison for femicide in Chihuahua (July 29, 2015)

Five men in northern Mexico were sentenced to an unprecedented 697 years in prison for the gender-driven killing of 11 women, a landmark precedent in the state of Chihuahua, where hundreds of women have been killed since 1990, reports Reuters.

The sentence was the longest-ever given for a femicide, the killing of a woman due to her gender and was based on scientific evidence, according to the Chihuahua attorney general's office.

It is an unprecedented move in a country where the systematic killing of women often goes unpunished, reports TeleSur.

The National Citizen Femicide Observatory, a coalition of human rights groups, believes that some 3,892 women were murdered in Mexico between 2012 and 2013, but only 16 percent of cases were investigated as femicides. 

"For the Mexican state drug trafficking is the most important threat to the country, which obscures other serious crimes like the assassinations of women and girls who die from gender-based discrimination and hate, most of which remain unpunished," a report on femicide from the observatory reads.

According to official statistics, over the past 28 years in Mexico more than 44,000 women have been murdered, though few perpetrators have been brought to justice, reports TeleSur in a different piece. Notimex puts the number at 2,764 for 2012, a 155 percent increase since 2007.

In this particular case the men lured the women in question into prostitution and drug distribution, killing them and flinging the bodies into the Navajo Arroyo, in the Valley of Juarez, said the Chihuahua attorney general's office.

In March Mexico's Supreme Court ordered that a case be probed as a femicide for the first time, after prosecutors in the State of Mexico initially labeled it a suicide, based on an investigation seen as plagued by anomalies.

The court declared it is the "duty of investigative bodies to investigate every violent death of a woman, to determine whether or not this is a case of femicide," reports VICE.

Justice Olga Sanchez Cordero, the only female on the five-justice panel, warned her peers that the vote should be considered monumental, for addressing the "culture of violence against women in our country."

Despite the judicial gains, the issue remains of grave relevance in Mexico. VICE reports that femicides are a silent epidemic in Mexico, particularly in Mexico State which "is home to an undetermined number of extremely violent killings of women that usually involve rape or mutilation, and are usually never solved."

The National Databank on Violence Against Women marks a total of 12,950 cases of aggression against women in the State of Mexico since its started collecting data in 2012, according to the piece.

Women's groups in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero, where 43 students were forcible disappeared 10 months ago, have called for a gender alert to be issued following a recent spike in fatal violence against women in the coastal city of Acapulco, where at least 11 women have been killed since July 13 reports TeleSur.

And in Sinaloa, a state legislator announced last week that the rate of femicide has increased by 110 percent in the last two decades, with 358 cases of femicide reported since 2011.

News Briefs
  • Brazilian police arrested the mastermind of the military’s secret nuclear program during the 1970s and ’80s, the latest casualty in the sweeping corruption scandal shaking Brazil’s establishment, reports the New York Times. Prosecutors said Othon Luiz Pinheiro da Silva the chief executive of the nuclear power unit of state-controlled electric utility Eletrobras took more than $1.3 million in bribes. In addition they carried out nearly two dozen search warrants on related businesses, widening a sweeping investigation into corruption at some of Brazil’s biggest government firms, reports the Wall Street Journal. Eletrobras, is Latin America’s biggest electric company by revenue and controls power generation, transmission and distribution companies throughout Brazil.

  • Analysts expect Brazil's economy to contract by 1.76 percent this year, marking its worst performance since 1990, with the inflation rate hitting 9.23 percent, said the Central Bank, according to MercoPress.
  • Tens of thousands of people marched in Potosí yesterday ratifying a strike that has been going for three weeks demanding development programs for the region, reports EFE. (Seeyesterday's and Friday's briefs.)

    • A Peruvian military operation has secured the release of more than a dozen people who were kidnapped by the Shining Path rebel group up to 25 years ago and used as slaves in remote mountain communities, reports The Guardian. The 13 adults and 26 children were evacuated by helicopters, though some had grown so accustomed to their lives with the Marxist group that they were initially reluctant to be rescued. The government said the operation was a victory against the Shining Path, which was largely defeated in the 1990s after waging a bloody insurgency that left almost 70,000 people dead or missing. 

      • Chilean President Michelle Bachelet called for fellow citizens to end their silence regarding human rights violations during the 1973-1990 military dictatorship and share information, praising a former soldier whose testimony helped the investigation into an incident in which two activists were burned alive in 1986. Seven former members of the military were charged last week over the case, in which one activist died. (See last Wednesday's briefs.) In all 40,018 people were killed, tortured or imprisoned for political reasons during General Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship, according to official figures. Chile’s government estimates 3,095 were killed, reports The Guardian.
      • As part of its monetary policy, the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV) has been combining liquidity-absorbing operations with the issuance of an investment instrument called "Directo BCV" in order to cut excess liquidity that could put counterproductive pressures on the economy, explains El Universal. The policy is aimed at reducing the pressure of excess liquidity on overall prices. 
      • Chelsea Clinton encouraged women to educate themselves and learn how to be more independent during a trip to Haiti to oversee projects financed by the Clinton Foundation, reports the Associated Press.
      • The Brazilian government will start using drones to monitor and investigate slave labor in difficult to reach rural areas, reports TeleSur. This comes in a time when the government is trying to fight off attempts by companies to undermine its crackdown on slave labor. 
      • Argentine prosecutors are concerned about the country's increasing drug trade and the growing complexity of criminal gangs, reports La Nación.
      • Military police officers in Brazil are critical of their training regimen, in which physical, psychological, and disciplinary abuses committed by their superiors are commonplace, reportsAgencia PúblicaInSight Crime has the English version this week. Bullying is the rule rather than the exception when training military police officers. Courses are concerned with imprinting the military culture on the future soldiers, with little theoretical teaching on topics such as criminal law or human rights. These are the conclusions of a recent study"Opinion of Brazilian Police on Reforms and Modernization of Public Security," published in 2014 by the Center of Applied Judicial Research (CPJA), reports the piece.

      NOTE: I will be off starting tomorrow (June 30) through next Friday (August 7), but Eduardo Romero will be covering the daily briefs in my absence.

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