On 29 March, 23 human-rights organizations from 11 countries that were meeting in Washington D.C. for the 141st session of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) denounced more than 2000 rights-violations against human-rights defenders in the Americas. They described an alarming situation that finds its basis in “the persistence of attacks on the part of state actors or those who act with its support or tolerance, such as paramilitaries, and the appearance of new forms of harassment on the part of organized crime and extractive firms with economic interests in the region.” They explained that according to the UN, the countries in which the m ost denunciations are produced are Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala, Brazil, and Peru (in this order).
In other news, the civil organizations requested that the IACHR create a spokeperson’s office or specific unit charged with the protection of rights-defenders. They also demanded that states implement effective means of protection and better public policies that guarantee the work of rights-defenders as well as the investigation of acts of violence and death-threats carried out against persons who risk their lives to denounce situations of social injustice.
Also on 29 March, in the European Parliament in Brussels, Mexican rights-defenders participated in a conference regarding the human-rights sitution in Mexico. These defenders denounced that “the Mexican State pretends to be concerned with the attacks and harassment directed against rights-defenders before the international community, but in daily reality things are not so; on the contrary, there is lived a continuous situation of risk.” They stressed the necessity of having protection-mechanisms for rights-defenders and journalists, with the effective participation of civil society in the design and implementation of such. They also discussed how to effectively implement the guidelines of the European Union on the Protection of Human-Rights Defenders.
Finally, the Digna Ochoa, Fray Matías de Córdova, and Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas human-rights centers expressed their preoccupation in Chiapas regarding the judicial harassment of the members of the Digna Ochoa Center (Tonala, coast of Chiapas) “specifically with regard to its director Nataniel Hernández Núñez and other lawyers of the same institution.” They manifested concern “for the utilization of legal actions targeting rights-defenders toward the end of harassing them judicially and discrediting their work.” They demanded that the federal government observe its obligation “to put an end to all types of aggression or obstruction of the work of human-rights defenders in Chiapas.”
For more information (in Spanish):
- Comunicado de prensa de las 23 ONGs de 11 países reunidas en Washington D.C durante el 141 periodo de sesiones de la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH), 29 March
- Boletín de prensa: Defensoras y defensores de Derechos Humanos mexicanos participan en conferencia sobre la situación de derechos humanos en México en el Parlamento Europeo (Brussels, 29 March)
- Boletín Conjunto basta de hostigamiento a integrantes del CDH Digna Ochoa (Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas y Centro de Derechos Humanos Digna Ochoa, 29 March)
- Preocupa a ONG hostigamiento en Chiapas contra Centro Digna Ochoa (La Jornada, 29 March)
For more information from SIPAZ (in English):