Mexico: “In Defense of Life” - Report on the situation of human rights defenders

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From November 9 to 14, 2014, 11 national and international organizations, including FIDH and OMCT within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, organised a Civil Observation Mission (MOC in Spanish) to Mexico in order to analyse the situation for human rights defenders in the country.

The mission reported that defenders in Mexico suffer harassment, slander, surveillance, theft of data, unfair legal proceedings, death threats, and even murders and enforced disappearances. Moreover, the legal framework highlighting governmental policies to promote and protect human rights sharply contrasts with the backdrop of vulnerability and risk faced by human rights defenders on the ground.

The report also highlights the extent of criminalization of human rights defenders, fueled by a lack of appropriate acknowledgement of their work in Mexican society. Legitimate and peaceful protests are often shown as violations of the law, and as a consequence, a number of defenders are depicted as agitators and criminals. Observers have also noticed that complaints filed against human rights defenders are generally expedited, while investigations are slow when it comes to acts committed against them. This tactic aims at generating fear and discouraging people from defending human rights.

Besides, women human rights defenders have reported the extreme vulnerability in which they find themselves, and have denounced security and protection measures that are not operational and not appropriate for them.

The final chapter of the report recounts on the factors that contribute to impunity and prevent defenders from carrying out their work, first and foremost an overall failure to effectively investigate and prosecute the perpetrators who put their work and their psychological and physical integrity at risk. Many defenders have expressed a clear mistrust in the authorities and in the rule of law.

The report concludes with a series of concrete recommendations aimed to enhance the protection of human rights defenders in Mexico.

Read the report “In Defense of Life”.

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