Mexico: They?ve killed our colleague

Digna Ochoa, 37, one of Mexico?s most prominent human rights lawyers, was shot to death in her office on 18 October. She had worked for many years at the Jesuit Human Rights Centre, Pro-DH, named after Blessed Miguel Pro SJ, martyred in 1927. Perhaps her best-known clients at the Centre were Rodolfo Montiel and Teodoro Cabrera, two peasants and anti-logging activists from the State of Guerrero jailed since May 1999 and considered by Amnesty International to be ?prisoners of conscience? (HL10801) . Ochoa?s assailants shot her three times at close range. Found next to her body was an unsigned note addressed to her former colleagues at Pro-DH: ?Keep carrying on, you sons of bitches, and the same will happen to several of you. You?ve been warned, you?ll have no excuse.? At a memorial Eucharist for Digna, Edgar Cortez SJ, director of Pro-DH, called her killing ?an ominous sign? that immunity from prosecution continues to undermine justice in Mexico, despite the Fox administration?s promises of reform. Often threatened with death, in 1999 she was kidnapped for four hours and beaten. Two months later, she was kidnapped a second time, held in her own home for nine hours, blindfolded, tied up and harshly interrogated about her colleagues and clients and their possible connections with guerrilla groups. None of her assailants was ever arrested.