Society / Justice and Law


March 29, 2016

Exterior of the Sullivan Law School

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Client of law school's clinic finally freed from prison

After over two and a half years of illegal detention, International Human Rights Clinic client Nestora Salgado-García is finally free. On Thursday night, Mexican courts cleared her of remaining charges and ordered her release. This morning, she walked out of prison a free woman. 

Seattle University School of Law's clinic recently won Salgado's case before the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. Mexico has now responded to the U.N. decision, which found her detention to be illegal and demanded her release. 

"We are thrilled that Nestora will finally be reunited with her family and many supporters, who have all fought so resolutely for her freedom," stated Thomas Antkowiak, director of the International Human Rights Clinic. 

Salgado, a citizen of the United States and Mexico, was arrested for community service in her home village of Olinalá in the Mexican state of Guerrero. Guerrero law and the Mexican Constitution guarantee the rights of indigenous communities to form their own security institutions. Salgado's group - created to protect Olinalá from drug-related violence - was officially part of state law enforcement, and had the express approval of Guerrero's governor. 

Salgado moved to the United States in 1991 at the age of 20. She divided her time between Olinalá and the Seattle area, where she lives with her husband, José Luis Avila, her daughters, and grandchildren. 

The law school's International Human Rights Clinic had been working to secure her freedom since the fall of 2013, when the petition to the U.N. working group was initially submitted. Rep. Adam Smith, the Freedom for Nestora Committee, and other political leaders had joined the clinic in advocating for her release. 

Last spring, they successfully lobbied for her transfer to a women's prison in Mexico City, where she had been held until her release Friday morning.

This article originally appeared at Seattle University School of Law. Visit Seattle University News for related coverage on Salgado's release.

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