UN-DH condemns the murder of the Cerocahui priests

Mexico City, June 21, 2022.- The Office in Mexico of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN-DH) condemns the murder of Jesuit priests Javier Campos Morales (79 years old) and Joaquín César Mora Salazar (80 years old) occurred on June 20 in the parish of Francisco Xavier in Cerocahui, Chihuahua.

According to the information made public, the events occurred when Javier Campos Morales and Joaquín César Mora Salazar tried to help and provide protection to a man who entered the church fleeing from armed persons. The two priests were part of the team of religious and laity who are in the Sierra Tarahumara, where they have been carrying out important social and pastoral work for more than thirty and twenty years, respectively, which, among other lines, includes strengthening the culture of the community Rarámuri in all its dimensions and the preservation of the environment.

“The murder of these two well-known priests reminds us of the situation of extreme violence and vulnerability faced by the communities of the Sierra Tarahumara in Chihuahua,” said Guillermo Fernández-Maldonado, UN-DH Representative in Mexico. “In the face of these crimes, I encourage the three levels of government to effectively implement the contingency plan that was agreed upon in 2016 to prevent and respond to attacks against human rights defenders and journalists in the state,” added Guillermo Fernández-Maldonado.

The UN-DH urges the authorities to carry out an effective and exhaustive investigation of these murders, considering all the relevant lines of investigation and identifying the material and intellectual authors. At the same time, it highlights the need to provide the community of Cerocahui, and other places in the Sierra Tarahumara in a situation of risk, with immediate, effective and concerted protection measures with the communities themselves, to protect the life and integrity of those who they inhabit and accompany them, taking into account that they are located in isolated areas and with a strong indigenous presence that makes them more vulnerable. It is urgent to achieve the recovery of the bodies of the two priests who were taken from the church by the perpetrators of the murder and to ensure their dignified restitution.

UN-DH expresses its solidarity with the families of Javier and Joaquín, with the community of Cerocahui and with the Society of Jesus and urges the authorities to break the cycle of extreme violence that affects the communities of the Sierra Tarahumara.

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