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  • Denisse de Leon, born Luis Alberto Leon, transgender and human rights activist

    Denisse de Leon, born Luis Alberto Leon, transgender and human rights activist | Photo: Aristegui Nocticias / Screenshot

Published 12 June 2017

The murder came just a few days after she spoke out about the security situation and dangerous conditions in a Mexican prison.

A Mexican transgender activist who defended the rights of the relatives of Cedes prison inmates was killed in her home Saturday, along with her mother and brother, in Ciudad Victoria, capital of the state of Tamaulipas.

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Denisse de Leon, born Luis Alberto Leon, was killed four days after she publicly denounced the security situation in the prison, criticizing the federal government for not respecting and protecting inmates' human rights.

“They seek to silence people from the civil society who talk to the media, who talk about the security situation,” commented Carlos Manuel Juarez, reporting for Aristegui Noticias.

On Tuesday, four inmates and three federal police officers were killed during a 15-hour shootout inside the prison, while many more were injured, according to the official reports.

De Leon, whose partner has been a prisoner in Cedes for four years and was soon to be released, openly talked to the reporters who covered the clash about how relatives feared they would not see some inmates alive again. They suspected the shootout to be the result of a police operation meant to "clean" the prison of the mafia leaders controlling the facility.

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As the government failed to provide detailed information about the situation inside the prison, de Leon pressured prison authorities to organize visits with the inmates, and requested the National Commission of Human Rights to intervene. She opposed the government's decision to transfer 150 inmates to another facility, explaining to reporters that “transfers are always dangerous because of the drug cartels.”

On Friday, 39 inmates were sent back to Cedes because their transfer was found illegal, as de Leon claimed.

In her last interview, de Leon mentioned that she started actively defending the inmates and their relatives after serving a prison sentence in the Cedes facility and recognizing the internal problems while being made aware that relatives were in constant fear for their family members' security and that they deserved to be defended.

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