Letter from Sidney Verba to the Mexican government on behalf of Committee on Human Rights of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine to demand the immediate search of Antonio Robledo Fernández, a Mexican engineer who was disappeared

Dr. Homero Ramos Gloria Procurador General de Justicia del Estado de Coahuila Centro Metropolitano Av. Humberto Castilla Salas #600 Saltillo, Coahuila, C.P. 25050
May 23, 2013
Dear Dr. Ramos Gloria:
I am writing in my capacity as chair of the Committee on Human Rights of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine to express our deep concern about the fate of José Antonio Robledo Fernández, a Mexican engineering colleague who has disappeared after being abducted from a parking lot in Monclova, Coahuila on January 25, 2009.

Mr. Robledo was employed by the ICA Fluor Daniel company at the time of his disappearance. While he was speaking on the telephone, he was approached by several men who reportedly inquired about his employer before ordering him into a car. When Mr. Robledo’s parents began to investigate their son’s disappearance, they were threatened and warned not to speak to the authorities.

While we are encouraged that an investigation was conducted and four men were convicted and are serving time in prison for Mr. Robledo’s disappearance, we are troubled that no one has faced justice for ordering the crime. The four men imprisoned for the crime reportedly have said that the disappearance was ordered by Carlos Enrique Haro Villareal, who was arrested but is now free. We understand that Mr. Haro Villareal initially faced multiple charges for his involvement; however, he was only convicted on one—possession of military arms—which was overturned in December 2012. To our knowledge, there has been no further attempt to identify those who ordered Mr. Robledo’s disappearance.
We request that all necessary measures be taken to uphold the rights of Mr. Robledo and his relatives, including those rights outlined in the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICCPED) and the Inter-American Convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons. Mexico is party to both conventions, which require that Mr. Robledo’s disappearance be investigated thoroughly and impartially until his fate is determined, that measures be taken to bring all those responsible to
justice—including those who ordered the crime—that steps are taken to protect relatives of the disappeared from violence and intimidation, and that any person suspected of being connected to the crime is not in a position to influence the investigation.

Although the disappearance of Mr. Robledo took place over four years ago, this in no way detracts from the Mexican government’s legal obligation to continue its investigation until his fate is determined and to make sure all involved are brought to justice. Mr. Robledo’s parents, who have been tireless in their search for their son and for justice, have distinct rights under the ICCPED, including the right to protection from threats and intimidation, the right to know the progress and results of the investigation to identify the person who ordered their son’s disappearance, and the right to know the fate of their son.

Dr. Elena Azaola Garrido, a member of our international network of science academies representing the Mexican Academy of Sciences, is following the investigation of Mr. Robledo’s case and is in contact with family members. She has offered to assist in any way possible. Thus I have included her contact information below, so that she may also receive any information you provide us.

Thank you for your attention to this matter of concern to us and to many other members of the international scientific community. We look forward to your reply.
Sidney Verba Chair
cc: Dra. Ma. María del Carmen Galván Tello, Titular, Oficina de Derechos Humanos, Estado de Coahuila
Ing. Juan Carlos Santos Fernández, Director General, ICA Fluor
Dra. Elena Azaola Garrido, Investigadora, Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social, Ciudad de México (email: eazaola@ciesas.edu.mx)

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