On 6 July, in observance of the official visit of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay, there was presented an accord to establish the foundation of a Mechanism for the Protection of Human-Rights Defenders, the same that was published on 7 July in the Official Daily of the Federation. According to the agreement, the Secretary of Governance (Segob), through the “Secretary, the Subsecretary of Juridical Affairs and Human Rights, and the Head of the Institution for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights, will dictate the necessary administrative measures to protect human-rights defenders in light of their situation of risk, threat, and vulnerability.” In this document human-rights defenders are defined as those persons who, whether individually or collectively, promote and defend the human rights that have been recognized by the Mexican Constitution and the international agreements ratified by the Mexican State. The agreement stipulates that the Federal Attorney General’s Office and other institutions of the federal administration should collaborate with Segob to protect those human-rights defenders who find themselves in situations of risk, threat, or vulnerability. Regarding the establishment of a Mechanism for the Protection of Human-Rights Defenders, the “Secretary of Governance will seek the participation of representatives of non-governmental organizations that promote and defend human rights as well as academic institutions and other experts.” There will be no modification in the organizational structure nor in additional budgeting for the implementation of the mechanism, according to the agreement.
Several civil-society organizations (OSC) have welcomed the agreement, but regardless there are deficiencies. In a joint communiqué, Urgent Action for Human-Rights Defenders (ACUDDEH), the Global Association of Communal Radios Mexico (AMARC), the Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Center for Human Rights (Centro Prodh), the Tlachinollan Mountain Center for Human Rights, the National Center for Social Communication (Cencos), the Mexican Center for Environmental Law (CEMDA), the Mexican Commission for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights (CMDPDH), the Cerezo Committee, the Northern Border Initiative of Mexico, Litiga OLE, and the National Network of Civil Human-Rights Organizations “All Rights for All” affirmed that the federal government’s proposal does not represent a concession on the part of the Mexican State but rather a joint effort by persons and organizations that seek to effectively protect human-rights defenders. They expressed the following: “We maintain a series of worries with regard to the guidelines for the Mechanism of Protection for Human-Rights Defenders. We feel that it should be inclusive and have its own budget, as well as consult state-governments in its application.” Among the things that should be included within this Mechanism, says the communiqué, are agreements with the states of the federal (given that in some cases they are the ones responsible for implementing the Mechanism’s measures), the participation of civil society in the same, an inter-institutional budget for its implementation, a broad definition of the term human-rights defender, and clearly defined measures of prevention and investigation, among other things.
Cencos, for its part, did an analysis and comparison of the agreements for the protection of journalists and human-rights defenders. In its conclusion it indicates that “in light of the problem is highlighted the lack of institutional harmonization among the diverse ambits to attend to the situations of vulnerability that are faced in a wholesome manner. That which was created for the protection of rights-defenders and journalists is not sufficient. There must be a holistic interrogation so as to understand the possibly responsibility for aggression comes from organized crime as well as governmental authorities. For this reason the process would require the generation of confidence, prioritizing the vision of human rights as a state responsibility.”
Also on this occasion of the official visit of Navanethem Pillly to Mexico, on 6 July in Mexico City there was had a public presentation of the campaign “Declare yourself,” which seeks to generate consciousness and visibilize the work of human-rights defenders, and thus ensure that this work be recognized, valued, and protected in light of the risks faced by defenders.
For more information (in Spanish):
Acuerdo para el establecimiento de un Mecanismo para la Protección a Defensoras y Defensores de Derechos Humanos (Documento oficial, emitido por la Secretaría de Gobernación en el Diario Oficial de la Federación) (07/07/2011)