In a communique published on 29 April, international human-rights organizations expressed their concern that the National Mechanism for the Protection for Human-Rights Defenders and Journalists in Mexico is “leaderless,” putting at risk its beneficiaries and applicants. This acephalous situation has to do with the resignations in February and March of 2015 of Víctor Manuel Serrato, former director of human rights, and Lía Limón, subsecretary for juridical affairs and human rights at the Governance Ministry (SEGOB).
The groups warn that, “though Roberto Campa Cifraín has been named as the new subsecretary for juridical affairs and human rights, nearly two months have passed since the departure of the director on human rights, and there is little clarity regarding when this position will be covered once again in a permanent fashion. The absence of management within the institution puts the Mechanism under a great deal of pressure and makes difficult the function for which it was established, thus increasing risk to human-rights defenders and journalists (both beneficiaries and applicants).”
The International Human Rights Federation (FIDH), International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), Jass (Associates for Justice), the Latin America Working Group Education Fund, Peace Brigades International (PBI), the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), and the Global Organization against Torture (OMCT) have similarly expressed consternation amidst the serious lack of implementation of the Mechanism due to reduced budgets (according to members from the Consultative Council, the analysts within the Mechanism have themselves had to cover their travel expenses since October 2014), the lack of a physical space within the institute’s office to attend to beneficiaries and applications, the lack of follow-up training provided to the members of the Mechanism who work on temporary contracts. They have also pointed to the lack of clarity in terms of criteria for review of cases, the lack of preventative measures, and the impunity in the cases of attacks on human-rights defenders and journalists.
To address these problems, the organizations make the following recommendations: to find a replacement director on human rights, to guarantee greater transparency within the operations of the Mechanism, in terms of the criteria that are used to accept or reject cases, and considering the follow-up that is done when precautionary measures are provided, as well as to improve the means by which the analyses of risk are carried out, to respond in a timely fashion to applications, and to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of all human-rights defenders and journalists “who are at risk as a result of their legitimate work, and who find themselves in high-risk situations during this latest crisis of leadership and the other problems that have been identified in terms of the implementation of the Mechanism for Protection.”
For more information (in Spanish):
“Acéfalo” el mecanismo de protección a activistas y comunicadores, denuncian ONG (Proceso, 30 de abril de 2015
Mecanismo de protección acéfalo pone en alto riesgo a defensores y periodistas: Brigadas de Paz (Página3, 30 de abril de 2015)
Comunicado conjunto: Organizaciones internacionales identifican fallas preocupantes en la implementación del Mecanismo Nacional de Protección a Personas Defensoras y Periodistas en México (OSC, 29 de abril de 2015)
For more information from SIPAZ (in English):