Approximately 20 Mexican federal police officers broke into the office of the human rights organization Centro de Derechos Humanos Paso del Norte in Ciudad Juarez at about 8:30 p.m. on June 5, 2011, searched files, broke windows, and damaged other parts of the office. Mexican federal prosecutors should immediately open a thorough and impartial investigation into the raid by federal police on the office, Human Rights Watch said.
Staff members of the organization were not in the office at the time of the raid. Neighbors, who took down the identification numbers of five police units involved, notified the staff of the incursion. Staff of the organization told Human Rights Watch that they saw the raid as retribution and harassment for documenting cases of alleged abuse by federal police.
The official human rights ombudsman for the state of Chihuahua told Human Rights Watch that federal police authorities conceded that officers who took part in the raid did not have search warrants to enter the office.
“Warrantless searches violate citizens’ basic right to privacy,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch.
"They can be especially harmful when they target human rights defenders, because they create a climate of intimidation that deters people from denouncing abuses. Federal authorities should send a clear message that such raids are unacceptable by holding accountable the officers who took part.”
Local organizations on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border held press conferences today calling for a complete review of the incident. Meanwhile, Javier Sicilia who is spearheading a national caravan protesting for peace in the drug war called for Mexico President Calderon to guarantee the security of the caravan. Centro de Derechos Humanos Paso del Norte is working in coordination with Sicilia's group to prepare for the caravan's arrival in Juarez, scheduled for June 9-10.