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CAT member kidnapped, beaten and threatened with death in Puebla

17 May, 2012The Workers' Support Centre (Centro de Apoyo al Trabajador, CAT), an NGO that defends labour rights in Mexico, has been subjected to harassment since 2008. The IMF and human rights organisations are calling for the authorities to guarantee the lives of CAT members.

MEXICO:  On May 15, four hooded individuals in a van kidnapped the labour and human rights defender, José Enrique Morales Montaño, a member of the Workers' Support Centre (Centro de Apoyo al Trabajador, CAT).

At approximately 1pm, Morales set off to attend a hearing at the Local Conciliation and Arbitration Board in the city of Puebla, in connection with a case in which CAT is defending a group of textile industry workers. He was kidnapped at approximately 5pm and tortured.  The kidnappers repeatedly held a gun to his head and threatened to kill him. At approximately 5am on the next morning, he was left on the Puebla-Veracruz highway. The kidnappers stole his mobile phone and rucksack. The death threats continued. During the morning, Blanca Velásquez, CAT director took a telephone call on behalf of José Enrique. "You are going to die, dog", said the caller.
The kidnapping took place in a context of systematic harassment and serious threats against CAT. Other members of the CAT team are clearly at imminent risk. Regrettably, this is not the first time that CAT members and offices have been attacked or the first time its members have been threatened. CAT has been subjected to harassment since 2008, mainly by multinational companies. CAT is a non-governmental organisation, which promotes and defends labour rights. Its work has highlighted the precarious working conditions to which workers are subjected on a daily basis.

The IMF expresses its concern and indignation that labour and human rights defenders have to work in a climate of harassment and that their physical integrity is often violated simply because they are exercising their right to defend human rights.
The IMF therefore supports the following demands and asks its affiliates to take solidarity action and call on the authorities to:

  • Guarantee the life, physical integrity and security of José Enrique Morales Montaño and the other members of  CAT.
  • Fulfil their obligation to conduct an effective and vigorous investigation that meets the highest international standards, into this attack and the repeated threats, identify those responsible for the kidnapping, beating and robbery of Enrique Morales Montaño and the threats against him and other members of CAT and prosecute and punish them in accordance with the law.
  • Ensure application of the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular article 1, which states that "everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels" and Article 12.2, which states that "the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration" (Art. 12.2)

LabourStart launched a special campaign in support of CAT members. To send a letter through the LabourStart go to: http://www.labourstart.org/cgi-bin/solidarityforever/show_campaign.cgi?c=1393