On 24 February, the Sixth District Judge of the State of Quintana Roo, Reynaldo Piñón Rangel, acknowledged that journalist Pedro Canché’s right to due process had been violated.
A Mayan activist and journalist, Pedro Canché had been covering the protest led by a group of indigenous people from his community against the Drinking Water and Sewerage Commission (CAPA, in Spanish) because of an increase in prices and the installation of meters. Charged with the crime of sabotage, Canché has been under arrest in a municipal prison since 30 August 2014.
ARTICLE19 believes that there were serious failings in the approach taken by the local judge of the municipality of Felipe Carrillo Puerto. However, the District Judge decided to give the Local Judge a “second chance” to remedy the deficiencies and contradictions of the case against the journalist.
While the protection measures granted to Pedro Canché by the Federal Judge took into account that there was no evidence to support Canché’s continued detention, the same Judge decided not to sanction his immediate release.
The District Judge acknowledged the following violations of Canché’s right to due process:
- It has not been proven that there was a crime of sabotage, as the water supply in Carrillo Puerto was not found to have been interrupted by the protests held in the municipality from 11 to 19 August 2014, which his accusers had claimed.
- It has not been found that Pedro Canché had any intention to seriously disrupt the economic and cultural life of the municipality.
- Pedro Canché’s conduct has not been established, meaning that it cannot be assumed that the journalist carried out acts of sabotage against CAPA.
- It has not been found that Pedro Canché hired people to carry out protests against the water payment system in the municipality.
- The evidence submitted by the journalist was not taken into consideration.
- In the evidence submitted by the local authorities, there are inconsistencies relating to the circumstances of the manner and place of the accusations against Canché.
On top of these violations of the right to due process, the authorities responsible for Canché’s wrongful incarceration have the opportunity to submit an appeal for review within the next 10 working days, which may extend the trial of the Mayan journalist indefinitely.
Members of Pedro’s family have also reported being victims of harassment and of having been denied access to the report on the journalist’s state of health by public servants.
ARTICLE 19 has condemned, since August last year, the harassment of and assaults on the journalist, supposedly orchestrated by the Governor of Quintana Roo, Roberto Borge.
ARTICLE 19 calls upon the State authorities to cease attacks on the Mayan journalist and also calls upon the Federal authorities to ensure that Pedro Canché’s human rights are fully respected since his innocence and the arbitrary nature of his detention have been demonstrated.