National: Mexico, one of the most dangerous countries for environmentalists

June 12, 2014
Demostration against the Paso de la Reina Dam in Oaxaca (@SIPAZ)

Demostration against the Paso de la Reina Dam in Oaxaca (@SIPAZ)

The Mexican Environmental Law Center (CEMDA) announced that, between 2009 and 2012, 51 environmental activists were attacked in Mexico. 23 of those cases were murders and two are of forced disappearance.

Andrea Ulisse Cerami, responsible for Defense and Public Policy at CEMDA, also mentioned: “We have a record of cases but we believe there might be many more of them, because several defenders do not even report those aggressions. We believe that there are more; there are cases of persons that come to us and express that they are afraid to denounce. “

These attacks occur when communities oppose development projects of different types. The projects are imposed in their territories without consulting them, although they may imply the sale or abandonment of their lands.

According to Andrea Ulisse Cerami, Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries for environmental defenders, and it is among the 5 countries that have received the most complaints. The states with the highest number of reported assaults are Guerrero and the state of Mexico. The cases of Oaxaca and Chiapas, both rich in natural resources, are also notable. “There has been a number of complaints, mainly related to mining. The case of Mariano Abarca Romero, defender of indigenous peoples and anti-mining activist who was killed [in Chiapas], is one of them.”

Finally, the representative of CEMDA emphasized the failure to investigate and punish the perpetrators, “which is the main preventive measure that can be given.” “In the case of murders in recent years, none of them has been clarified. There is the problem of access to justice for environmental defenders. In fact the lack of punishment of those responsible is another measure that encourages new attacks because nobody seems to mind about them.”

For more information (in Spanish)

El CEMDA reporta 51 ataques a activistas del medio ambiente en tres años; hay 23 asesinados y dos desaparecidos (Sinembargo, 5 de junio de 2014)

National: Closure of the Campaign “Let Us Defend Hope”

June 12, 2014


On May 31, members of various civil Human Rights organizations held a public event to close the campaign “Let Us Defend Hope,” which was launched just over a year ago and aimed at “spreading the positive impacts of male and female Human Rights defenders.  They recalled that the Campaign began in March 2013 and “collected twenty stories of how the work of human rights defenders has contributed to build a more just and democratic society. <p>”>were present at the event.

They stressed that forums, conferences and public events were held in eight Mexican states in the framework of this Campaign. Moreover they stated that: “Mexico is a country of high risk to those who defend human rights. One factor that increases this risk is the lack of knowledge and appreciation of the work of human rights defenders. [...] No doubt, through this campaign, we helped to publicize these contributions, and invited others to do so. Today more than ever, Mexico needs human rights defenders and to open spaces for public debate so as to strengthen freedom of expression of all people. “

For more information (in Spanish):

Clausuran campaña en pro de defensores de derechos humanos (31 May 2014)

Comunicado de las OSC que integraron la Campaña (31 May 2014)


For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Guerrero: Presentation of book “Accompanying hope: 20 experiences in defense and promotion of human rights” in Chilpancingo (14 February 2014)

Chiapas: Forum “Defending hope and autonomy from southeastern Mexico” (19 July 2013)

National: Campaign “We Defend Hope” in favor of human-rights defenders (8 April 2013)

National: Campaign “We Defend Hope” in favor of human-rights defenders

April 8, 2013

banner_redtdt_3Starting on 20 March, the National Network of Civil Human-Rights Organizations “All Rights for All” announced the National Campaign “We Defend Hope” in favor of human-rights defenders.  By means of this campaign, and for a year’s course, it has been proposed that there be shared different experiences of the defense and promotion of the human rights advanced by the 73 organizations that comprise the Network in 21 states of Mexico.

By means of this and other public acts to raise consciousness, the Network seeks to make-visible the contributions of rights-defenders in the construction of a more just society.  During the launch of the campaign, Agnieszka Raczynska, Executive Secretary of the Network, observed that “the work of human-rights defenders is little-recognized in Mexico; on several occasions, it has been the authorities who defame those who defend human rights.  Over the course of the last few years, rights-defenders have been threatened, surveiled, harassed, slandered, and physically assaulted, all because of the work they carry out in favor of the victims or the causes they defend.”

The campaign also proposes the integration and participation of society in general in these efforts, given that all people can be defenders of their own communities and places.

For more information (in Spanish):

Página de la Campaña “Defendamos la esperanza”

Boletín de prensa en el marco del lanzamiento de la Campaña (20 de marzo de 2013)

Página de la Red Nacional de Organismos Civiles de Derechos Humanos “Todos los Derechos para Todas y Todos” (Red TDT)

Defendamos la esperanza (La Jornada, 23 de marzo de 2013)

Mexico: Insufficient attention to human rights on the part of EPN

March 20, 2013


 Nearly a hundred days into the new administration of Enrique Peña Nieto, Annesty International (AI) expressed that “the few measures that Enrique Peña Nieto has taken in terms of human rights simply do not correspond to the gravity of the situation that Mexico is experiencing.”

“There exist worrying indications that this government is not giving sufficient priority to the protection of human rights.  The new administration should break with the empty promises from before regarding human rights, putting an end to the impunity of abuses,” noted Javier Zúñiga, special assessor of AI.

Victims of violence, police reform, code of military justice, migrants, women, indigenous people, human rights defenders and journalists: AI went systematically through the problems that exist and the lack of significant progress in each sphere.

For more information (in Spanish):

Peña Nieto: Cien días esperando verdaderos avances de derechos humanos (Comunicado de prensa de AI, 5 de marzo de 2013)

AI: insuficiente atención de Peña a derechos humanos (La Jornada, 5 de marzo de 2013)

Ai: Insuficiente respuesta de EPN en derechos humanos (El Universal, 4 de marzo de 2013)

Pide AI al gobierno de Peña más compromiso con derechos humanos(Milenio, 4 de marzo de 2013)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Nacional: Amnesty International presents report regarding use of torture in Mexico (19 October 2012)

National: International judges report on conclusions of the observation of state of justice in Mexico (12 October 2012)

Chiapas: Presentation of report on torture in Chiapas “From Cruelty to Cynicism” (2 July 2012)

The OMCT condemns torture in Chiapas (18 August 2011)

National: Female human-rights defenders organize to protect themselves

February 5, 2013


On 25 and 26 January in Mexico City, female members of the National Network of Female Human-Rights Defenders in Mexico met to analyze the impact of the present socio-political context on their work in defense of indigenous peoples, natural resources, victims of feminicide, sexual and reproductive health, and freedom of expression.  The activists, hailing from states such as Chihuahua, Nuevo León, Baja California, Chiapas, Guerrero, Coahuila, Durango, Oaxaca, and Puebla, presented a protocol of attention to respond to the imminent situations of danger they face.  During two work-days, the defenders joined together their knowledge within the context of violence and concluded that the simply act of supporting a cause makes them vulnerable.  With the creation of a protocol of protection, they now have the basic tools to collect information, establish contacts, and locate emergency services.

For more information (in Spanish):

Defensoras de DH se organizan para protegerse a sí mismas (CIMAC Noticias, 28 de enero de 2013)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Oaxaca: First state in attacks on female defenders, denounce organizations (21 December 2012)

National: MPJD criticizes presidential “veto” of Law on Victims (10 July 2012)

National: Approval of Law for the Protection of Human-Rights Defenders and Journalists (16 May 2012)

Oaxaca: Harassment and robbery of offices of Consorcio (14 November 2011)

Oaxaca: new intimidation directed at Alba Cruz (18 January 2011)

Oaxaca: attack on union leader Marcelino Coache (20 May 2010)

Oaxaca: National and international mission documents 41 aggressions against NGO and rights-defenders

October 12, 2012

From 1 to 3 October, members of Peace Brigades International (PBI) and representatives of member-organizations of the National Network of Civil Human Rights Organizations “All Rights for All” carried out a civil mission in the state of Oaxaca toward the end of “corroborating the human-rights violations committed against rights-defenders in this state.”

According to data registered by the Network, Oaxaca is the state with the greatest number of human-rights violations against rights-defenders in Mexico.  In 2011 and 2012 to date, 41 aggressions were seen against groups (12) and rights-defenders (29) in the state.  The mission confirms that there are 1847 persons who benefit from precautionary measures as issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), a number that reflects the worrying violation of human rights in the state.

Upon ending the mission, its member-participants stressed that “among the reports on the human-rights violations of rights-defenders as received by the mission, murders, physical aggressions, harassment, death-threats, slander, robbery, arbitrary arrest, and undue or disproportionate use of public force are stressed.  This situation of attacks and harassment as directed against rights-defenders is presented as a general situation, not only a manifestation of isolated cases.”

The mission stresses also that “many of these aggressions occur against persons and communal organizations who defend their right to land and territory, specifically against extractive projects (mining), wing-energy (for electricity generation), hydroelectric dams, and infrastructural projects in general.”

The mission emphasizes that “one of the factors that implies great impact for the situation of insecurity for rights-defenders is the near-total impunity with which crimes against them are met.  The rights-defenders with whom the mission met have applauded the initiative to concentrate all the cases of aggression in the new Special Prosecutorial Office for Crimes of Social Transcendence.  Regardless, they expressed their worry, because there are still cases to be transferred, and given that the Office lacks the necessary resources and capacities to confront this urgent problem.”

The Mission announced that there will be a second visit before the end of the year, so as to continue with investigating the commitments of authorities to guarantee the security of human-rights defenders.

For more information (in Spanish):

Oaxaca, primer lugar nacional en violaciones a derechos humanos de activistas (Proceso, 1ero de octubre de 2012)

Misión a Oaxaca pro garantías básicas (La Jornada, 2 de octubre de 2012)

Documentan 41 agresiones a ONG y activistas en Oaxaca (Proceso, 3 de octubre de 2012)

Impunes, agresores de defensores de derechos humanos en Oaxaca: ONG (Milenio, 3 de octubre de 2012)

Concluye Misión de defensores y defensoras de derechos humanos a Oaxaca (Comunicado final, PBI, RedTdT, GOBIXHA, 3 de octubre de 2012)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Oaxaca: Death-threats against human-rights defenders (4 November 2011)

Oaxaca: new intimidation directed at Alba Cruz (18 January 2011)

Oaxaca: attack on union leader Marcelino Coache (20 May 2010)

Oaxaca: Reports-police operations/new aggressions against the Human Rights Center/precautionary measures for activist and his family (14 May 2009)

Oaxaca: New threats in the case of Marcelino Coache (4 May 2009)

National: presentation by Acuddeh regarding human-rights violations committed from 2011 to the first third of 2012

July 2, 2012

On 26 June, the organization Urgent Action for Human-Rights Defenders (Acuddeh) presented a report regarding human-rights violations committed against rights-defenders during 2011 and the first third of the year 2012.

Alejandro Cerezo, coordinator of Accudeh, indicated that based on information from public institutions, it can be seen that from 2010 to 2012 there has been a 418% increase in rights-violations against rights-defenders.  The report highlights that this increase cannot be attributed to organized crime, but rather to the Mexican State itself, given that of 87 documented violations, 47% were committed either through acquiescence or “directly by persons or groups of persons who act with the consent, authorization, support, or instigation of the State–for example, paramilitary groups.”

The aggressions most frequently denounced have been death-threats (47% of the total).  Furthermore, the report reveals that female defenders are vulnerable than are males, given that the former are often assaulted on more than one occasion.  The report claims also that the directors of these attacks seek to dismantle independent collectives, given that the majority of the assaults target leaders of these organizations.

Also present at the event were the following individuals: Tannia Falconer, coordinator for Mexico Projects of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation; Javier Hernández Valencia, representative of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Mexico; Agnieszka Raszynska, executive secretary of the National Network of Human-Rights Organizations All Rights for All; and Miguel Concha Malo, director of the Fray Francisco de Vitoria Center for Human Rights OP AC. Miguel Concha stressed that the document is important in informational terms but also in practical ones, given that it explains which risks defenders face and how they might prevent them and defend themselves against these.

For more information (in Spanish):

Documento completo “Informe de violaciones de derechos humanos cometidas contra las personas defensoras de los derechos humanos en el periodo 2011-primer trimestre de 2012” (Acuddeh, junio de 2012)

Organizaciones civiles presentan informe de delitos contra defensores de derechos (Milenio, 26 de junio de 2012)

Aumentaron 418% las agresiones contra defensores de los derechos humanos (La Jornada, 27 de junio de 2012)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

National: Approval of Law for the Protection of Human-Rights Defenders and Journalists (16 May 2012)

Mexico: human-rights organizations affirm that “human rights are NOT an existing reality in the country”

March 3, 2012


On 13 February, more than 80 non-governmental organizations working for the defense and promotion of human rights criticized in a joint pronunciation that while the Mexican government utilizes an official discourse of respect for human rights, in reality rights-defenders in the country are at risk, and to date there exist no effective mechanisms for their protection.  They presented as examples the “existing breach between the discourse of the Secretary for Governance (SEBOG) and the prevailing reality of the country throughout the course of [Calderón's] six-year term”: the flouting of sentences handed down by the Inter-American Court on Human Rights (IACHR), the absence of a protection-mechanism for defenders, and the defense of military tribunals.  The communiqué responded to an announcement made by the Secretary of Governance on 7 February which indicates that the defense and protection of human rights “are the highest priorities for the federal government.”

The same day, the National Commission on Human Rights (CNDH) reported that attacks on human-rights defenders reached alarming levels in 2011, a year that say 59 denunciation (CNDH).  The organization added that in light of this situation it awarded precautionary measures to 16 supplicants.

For more information (in Spanish):

Los derechos humanos NO son una realidad vigente en el país (Boletín de prensa, OSC de derechos humanos de México, 13 February 2012)

ONG alertan del riesgo constante de activistas (El Universal, 14 February 2012)

CNDH reporta 59 ataques contra activistas en 2011 (El Universal, ‎13 February 2012‎)

Reporta CNDH 59 agresiones contra activistas en 2011 (Proceso, 13 February 2012)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Guerrero: Extrajudicial execution of students from the Rural Normal of Ayotzinapa (21 December 2011)

Mexico: “Neither security nor rights: executions and torture in the war on drug-trafficking in Mexico” (26 November 2011)

Mexico: Mexico undergoes the Universal Periodic Review (13 February 2009)

Mexico: Celebration of the Fourth Meeting of Human-Rights Defenders

August 19, 2011


On Friday 12 August and Saturday 13 August, human-rights defenders and journalists met to hold the Fourth National Meeting, which was originally called for by the Solidarity Network Decade against Impunity, the Program of Human Rights of the Ibero-American University of Mexico City and the ProDH Center.  In the declaration of the meeting, participants recalled that all persons who either individually or collectively promote and request the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental rights whether nationally or internationally are to be considered human-rights defenders.  For this reason, one’s professional experience or degree of pertenance to a given civil-society organization does not matter, insofar as the methods employed to defend human rights are to be found compatible with the same.

Participants also expressed their concern for the situation of human rights in Mexico.  They indicated that the situation has suffered a grave relapse in light of the context of violence that prevails under the so-called war on drugs.  Alejandro Nuño, director of the Center for Justice and International Law (Cejil), noted it was an advance that “the agreement for the creation of the mechanism of protection of defenders be published in the Official Daily of the Federation (DOF); regardless, it should be required that organizations be consulted so that there be a real instrumentation of the mechanisms and so that the investigation of aggression and death-threats be considered an indisputable part of protection.”  Cuahthémoc Ramírez, secretary of the Organization of the Me’phaa Indigenous Peoples (OPIM), denounced that on Wednesday 10 August at midnight, some seven armed men identified as informants for the Army attempted to harass the offices of his organization.  Magdalena López Paulino, from the Solidarity Network Decade against Impunity, indicated that in Los Pinos more excuses are sought so as not to observe the orders of the Inter-American Court on Human Rights (IACHR), as in the cases of the ecologist campesinos Rodolfo Montiel and Teodoro Cabrera.

For more information (in Spanish):

Video de la rueda de prensa (Centro Prodh, 13 August)

El mecanismo de SG en pro de activistas, posible plan para lavar la cara al gobierno (La Jornada, 13 August)

Defensores de Derechos Humanos exigen a Calderón garantías para su labor (Proceso, 14 August)

Grave retroceso en derechos humanos: ONG (La Jornada, 14 August)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Mexico: Accord to establish a Mechanism for Protection of Human-Rights Defenders; campaign “Declare yourself” is launched (20 July 2011)

Chiapas/Mexico: National and international campaign against judicial harassment directed against and criminalization of human-rights defenders in Mexico

July 1, 2011

In a press-conference, representatives of social movements and civil human-rights organizations, among them the Digna Ochoa Center for Human Rights, the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Center for Human Rights, the Fray Matías de Córdova Center for Human Rights, and the Center for the Rights of Women in Chiapas launched on Thursday 23 June the “National and International campaign against judicial harassment and the criminalization of human-rights defenders in Mexico.”  They reported that the objective of this campaign is to demand a true justice and to express opposition to political persecution, repression ,and criminalization.

The Digna Ochoa CDH advocated for the cancellation of juridical threats and unjust penal processes against social activists and communal defenders.  Concretely, it requested the nullification of the investigations against Nataniel Hernández Núñez, director of said Center, who was detained on two occasions in February and March 2011.  Members of the Digna Ochoa CDH and the Autonomous Regional Council of the Coast of Chiapas (CARZCC) emphasized that “it remains clear that the strategy of persecution against the comrade and repression against the people who organize themselves and struggle [continues].  Presently he faces five penal investigations–fabricated–which show yet again that in Mexico it is not justice that exists but impunity which prevails.  The comrade is not alone, nor is anyone [else] who raises one’s voice and organizes oneself in defense of one’s people and rights.”

The Fray matías de Córdova Center for Human Rights has declared that “in accordance with the Digna Ochoa CDH, we have suspended our legal representation of Nataniel Hernández.  We understand the truth and comprehend that a justice system that persecutes human-rights defenders and bases itself in fabricated evidence and failures of office is not justice.  It is thus better to seek other means of social and political defense–as long as the courts are inaccessible to people like Nataniel.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Campaña nacional e internacional contra el hostigamiento judicial y criminalizacion a defensores de DH en México, Cencos 22 June 2011

Exigen justicia contra la persecución política, (Cuarto Poder, 24 June 2011)

Peligroso, defender derechos humanos en México, denuncia el Centro Digna Ochoa, (La Jornada, 21 June 2011)


Audio de la conferencia de prensa, Radio Pozol, 23 June 2011

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

México: Pronunciations and actions as regards the situation of human-rights defenders in the country and southeastern Mexico (25 March 2011)

Chiapas: director of Digna Ochoa Center for Human Rights detained once again (20 March 2011)

Chiapas: 3 human-rights defenders from the Digna Ochoa Center for Human Rights released from El Amate (8 March 2011)


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