The Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition (WHRD IC) urges the Mexican government to immediately bring into full force the law for the protection of human rights defenders (HRD) and Journalists. The national mechanism is designed to establish obligations which ensure authorities act on requests for protection of HRDs and journalists who are at risk of attack through the implementation of preventative protection measures.
On the April 24, 2012, the Mexican Senate unanimously approved the bill for the protection of human rights defenders (HRD) and Journalists, and held a minute’s silence for victims. On April 30, in the Chamber of Deputies, the draft law again received unanimous support and a minute of silence was observed, this time it was for Ms. Regina Martínez Pérez, the latest victim.
Ms. Pérez was a correspondent with the publication Proceso, and had recently reported on the arrest of an allegedly high-ranking criminal leader, the arrests of nine police officers charged over links to cartels, a local mayor who was arrested with alleged cartel gunmen following a shootout with the Mexican Army, and other controversial stories. According to information made available, on the 28th April, Ms Pérez was found dead in her home with signs of physical assault, her mobile phones and a computer was taken from the scene.
The WHRD IC is especially concerned that the killing of Ms Pérez is not an isolated incident; four journalists were killed in 2011 in the State of Veracruz alone. Mrs. Margaret Sekaggya, as Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, in her recent 2011 report mentions that journalists and media workers are targeted due to their reporting of human rights violations. Furthermore, Mrs. Sekaggya focused on Mexico when she highlighted the risks faced by journalists like Ms Pérez; “Journalists and media workers have also been attacked when their activities include investigations of abuses by powerful non-State actors, such as organized crime (Italy, Mexico).” The killing of three more photojournalists in Veracruz on 3 May confirms the grave threat faced by those at risk.
The WHRD IC urges the Mexican authorities to fulfil their commitments under the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders as well as obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, by bringing the protective law into force as soon as possible.
The WHRD IC calls for the Mexican authorities to:
1. Carry out an immediate and impartial investigation into the death of Ms Pérez and to ensure that perpetrators of this attack and others are brought to justice.
2. Ensure that effective measures are implemented and resources are made available to assist and protect those at risk, in coordination with civil society.
3. Ensure that the new law is put into effect immediately and enables HRD and journalists to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of harassment, intimidation and physical injury.
4. Ensure that the specific needs of WHRDs are fully taken into account in the elaboration and implementation of the protection mechanism.
The Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition (WHRD IC) is a resource and advocacy network for the protection and support of women human rights defenders worldwide.
This statement has been individually endorsed by the following organisations:
Amnesty International (AI)
Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID)
The Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL)
Front Line International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (Front Line)
Information Monitor (Inform)
Peace Brigades International (PBI)
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (a joint programme OMCT-FIDH)
Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice (WIGJ)