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Monday 19 November 2007, by Comité Cerezo México

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The benefits of amnesty:

1. The prisoner is freed without having to acknowledge political offenses and related acts that he or she may or may not have committed, as in the case of prisoners belonging to an insurgent group.

2. Unserved arrest warrants are canceled, which is to say that people are no longer political fugitives and that those charged can return to their homes instead of having to flee or being tied down by arrest warrants that might be served at any minute according to the political climate. e.g. América del Valle.

3. The criminal records are erased of all those were prisoners and whose cases are still open, as well as those who have already served unjust prison terms.


1. The amnesty law means pardon.

Amnesty is not pardon, which falls into the legal category of clemency; amnesty, on the other hand, means that the government forgets or overlooks the offenses that the prisoners may or may not have committed, and frees the prisoners.
With pardon, there is an acknowledgement of the offenses, regardless of whether they have been committed or not; the prisoners are freed by a “pardon” and still have a criminal record.

The passage of an amnesty law is a process of struggle by organizations and the organized people to free more than 500 prisoners now being held; it is the result of the creative utilization of all forms of struggle for freedom and is not an equation for judging the political convenience of amnesty and making political capital out of the struggle for the prisoners.

2. Amnesty pardons (we’ve already seen that it’s not pardon) those responsible for human rights violations and crimes against humanity.

We are pushing for amnesty for political prisoners, prisoners of conscience, and those unjustly associated with political motives, NOT for the State. In Mexico, there have been three cases of amnesty and not one of them has included the torturers and murders of our people. The struggle against impunity and the demand for punishment of those responsible continues, and an amnesty law does not stand in the way.

3. As of now, amnesty has served dictatorships and fostered impunity.

In Mexico, this has not been the case. An amnesty law for political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in Mexico can’t be compared with the full stop and due obedience laws passed in Argentina and similar laws in the Southern Cone. Neither is it reciprocal; such a law is totally unacceptable. We always stand by the slogan: We’ll never forget—no pardon, no reconciliation!

4. If unjust imprisonment, torture and outrageous treatment is forgotten, reparations for damages must also be forgotten.

A prisoner who is granted amnesty does not have to renounce (because this is impossible) his or her human rights, much less reparations for damages. There’s no forgetting unjust imprisonment, torture or outrageous treatment. Even if someone signed a document of this type, it would only be proof of the State’s political maneuvers and a flagrant violation of national and international human rights instruments.

5. A prisoner must renounce his or her principles in order to be released from prison under amnesty.

He or she will be considered a traitor; this is a valid reason why some organizations do not accept amnesty.

We take the stand that the prisoners are the ones who should decide how they will get out, not we who defend them; neither is our stand based on an evaluation of the political correctness or incorrectness of demanding amnesty, but instead on the right to freedom of State hostages who have no possibility of obtaining it in a court of law. The ethical imperative is freedom.

We also understand that there are prisoners who for personal or organizational convictions do not want to be released under amnesty, but an amnesty law is not obligatory. If its passage is achieved, prisoners who choose not to appeal to it due to a political position cannot be forced to do so, neither will they be expelled from the prisons. They will continue to use their own political approach to gain their freedom. Even so, we continue to support the initiative because what matters is FREEDOM.

6. Amnesty laws don’t work; one was passed in Guerrero in 2003, yet not one single political prisoner was released.

To think that the State passes an amnesty law out of benevolence is an error. We know that the State is obliged to do so by the social struggle and because it deems its passage politically convenient, but it will try every way possible to draft a law that does not allow for the freedom of political prisoners in Mexico, as was the case in Guerrero; therefore, we must explain why this law was a failure, analyze and criticize the attitude of the organizations that broke unity at that time in order to make political capital out of the law, weakening themselves to the extent that the State was able to pass a law that was of no use. Clarifying this episode also allows us not to blame the State because it is bad (we know that all too well), but to take responsibility as organizations and individuals and wage a united struggle for a draft law that will lead to the freedom of all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in our country.

We hope this short explanation will clear up the basics of what amnesty is and what it isn’t; if there are any doubts, however, please let us know.

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