Vanessa Mendoza Cortés acquittal on January 17, 2024, marked a significant moment in human rights advocacy. A court in Andorra absolved her of all charges, vindicating her from unjust accusations of defamation. Her “crime” was merely advocating for women’s rights and speaking out against Andorra’s strict abortion laws at a UN meeting in 2019.
The Path to Vanessa Mendoza Cortés Acquittal: A Defining Moment for Free Speech
Vanessa Mendoza Cortés had a long court battle that lasted over three years. She leads an organization called Stop Violence (Associació Stop Violències, in Catalan). Her court date was on December 4, 2023. The prosecution claimed she harmed the reputation of Andorra’s institutions. Why? Because she spoke up for women’s and girls’ rights. She also criticized Andorra’s strict abortion laws. The prosecution wanted her to pay a fine of about 8,700 CAD. They also wanted her to pay the same amount for damages. Plus, they didn’t want her to hold any public office for six months.
Vanessa’s trouble started when she worked with the United Nations in 2019. She was part of an important dialogue about women’s rights. This talk was with a group that fights discrimination against women.
But on January 17, 2024, things changed for the better. The court decided Vanessa did nothing wrong. They said she had the right to speak freely. They also said her work with the United Nations was important and valid.
You are part of this collective and peaceful victory. Our strength is in our solidarity and in standing up for each other’s rights.Vanessa Mendoza Cortes
On February 8, Vanessa Mendoza Cortés expressed her gratitude to Amnesty International and shared a heartfelt message with everyone who supported her cause: “I want to personally thank the more than 70,000 people who have taken action to support me put pressure on the Andorran authorities. You are part of this collective and peaceful victory. Despite the tough years, I feel lucky to walk side by side with you. Our strength is in our solidarity and in standing up for each other’s rights.”