On 12 May 2014, human rights defender Ms Sandra Luz Hernandez was killed in Culiacán, Sinaloa. The human rights defender was shot 15 times in the head in broad daylight.

Sandra Luz Hernandez was a member of Madres con Hijos Desaparecidos (Mothers of Disappeared Children), an organisation made up of mothers seeking to combat impunity for the enforced disappearances of their children in Mexico. The human rights defender has been searching for justice for her son, Edgar Guadalupe García Hernández, who worked in the State Prosecutor’s Office of Sinaloa, since he was abducted from their home on 12 February 2012 by unknown armed persons.

At approximately 4pm, Sandra Luz Hernandez was shot by a man as she walked along Calle Constitución with a friend. The human rights defender was reportedly on her way to meet a person who she had been told had information regarding her son’s case. Sandra Luz Hernandez had stated that, the day before, she was approached by a stranger in a shopping centre who said that he knew someone who could tell her where her son was. On 12 May 2014, the human rights defender reportedly received a call arranging a meeting with the person at the Benito Juarez Colony. The human rights defender had met with the State Prosecutor of Mexico to discuss her son’s case at 11:30am the same day.

Allegedly, those responsible for the disappearance of Sandra Luz Hernandez’s son had presented themselves to the police, but were released without charge. The Prosecutor’s Office had assisted the human rights defender on three occasions in performing a physical search for her son’s body, but no progress was made in the investigation. The killing of Sandra Luz Hernandez highlights the great risks faced by families of disappeared persons in Mexico seeking justice. For example, on 16 December 2010, Marisela Escobedo Ortiz was shot during a peaceful vigil outside the Chihuahua State Governor’s Office in protest at the impunity granted to her daughter’s killer. Front Line Defenders issued an Urgent Appeal at the time. According to the record of the Red Nacional de Defensoras de Derechos Humanos en México (The National Network of Human Rights Defenders in Mexico), since 2010 to date, there have been a total of 31 killings of human rights defenders, including the shooting of Sandra Luz Hernandez.

Front Line Defenders strongly condemns the killing of human rights defender Sandra Luz Hernandez, as it is solely related to her peaceful and legitimate human rights work in combating impunity and seeking justice for the victims of enforced disappearances.