Hautala Congratulates Mexican Lawyers Peña and Salas for Human Rights Award

Chairwoman addressed the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe’s Human Rights Award ceremony on 26 November to congratulate the 2010 laureates, David Pena and Karla Micheel Salas, Mexican lawyers. [:] 

Please see the speech of Ms Hautala in full below;



Dear Colleagues,


I am very pleased to have been invited to address the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe’s Human Rights Award ceremony 2010.


My gratitude is evermore increased for the news that the award will be given this year to Mexican lawyers David Pena and Karla Micheel Salas.


They are both esteemed practitioners in their field and well placed to receive the prestigious 2010 Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe’s Human Rights Award.




I have had the privilege to learn of the work of Mr Pena, first hand during this year. On 27 April, we received the sad news of the deaths of Bety Cariño Trujillo, of the Centro de Apoyo Comunitario Trabajando Unidos (CACTUS) and Jyri Jaakkola, a Finnish national, in a violent attack near San Juan Copala, Oaxaca, Mexico.


Since then I have remained in close contact with Mexican representatives in Brussels, the EU embassy in Mexico and High Representative Ashton, to monitor the progress of the investigations and ensure that justice will be done. Mr Pena has been integral part of my work and without him my efforts would have been futile.


I also took up the case at the Subcommittee on Human Rights on 8th of November. In this meeting the family of Mr Jaakkola together with Mr Pena, their lawyer, discussed with Minister Alejandro Negrín, Director General for Human Rights and Democracy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico and the EU Commission about these cases in more detail.


While Mr Pena stressed that investigations must be carried out with more vigour and justice be pursued with more coherence, Minister Alejandro Negrín assured that while a lot has been done in these fronts, they are committed to ensuring that more effort be made still.


I am encouraged by these words and I was pleased to see intense engagement on behalf of the Mexican government in this meeting.




The cases of Mr Jaakkola and Mrs Carino are, however, not of course the only effort we should hail today when Mr Pena and Ms Micheel Salas receive their award.


Their work has been groundbreaking in representing the families of the victims of the uninvestigated assasinations of women in Campo Algodonero case, the Ciudad Juarez femicides, as we have come to know it.


Not only did they successfully defeat pervasive impunity surrounding the case – they also contributed to the recognition of new crime that is “femicide”.


Rights of women and equality have been close to my heart for years in my work and I thus welcome this kind of a landmark achievement with highest appreciation.




David Pena and Karla Micheel Salas are driven in their work by their conviction to protect and promote human rights. Their work carries risks and sacrifices, incomprehensible for those who have never had to experience the ravages of gang war and culture of violence.


I cannot stress enough that stronger human rights protection in Mexico must be instigated without delay and with gusto. While the attacks on human rights defenders in Mexico continue unabated, some areas remain no-go places even for the police. The lawlessness and corruption are rampant and the courageous individuals who take on this challenge deserve our utmost respect.


I wish to congratulate Mr David Pena and Ms Karla Micheel Salas for their outstanding achievement.


I hope them strength and courage in their further pursuit of justice. They can always count on my support.


Thank you.