On September 24th, 2019, the study “Defenders without Walls: Human Rights Defenders Criminalized in Central America, Mexico and the United States” was presented by the Front Line Defenders and All Rights for All Network NGOs in Mexico City.
The report reveals that following the agreement reached by the presidents of Mexico and the United States to reduce the flow of migration to the North, attacks against defenders of migrant rights have intensified. After Donald Trump threatened the Mexican president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, with tariffs, he stationed 6,000 members of the National Guard of Mexico on the border with Guatemala. The deployment of these military forces has caused a 58.7% reduction in migration flow this summer according to official sources.
The Front Line Defenders report identifies 69 events of detention, threats, harassment, defamation, aggression, deportation, surveillance or denial of entry into a country during the period from October 2018 to September 2019, 41 of them occurring in 2019.
It argues that human rights defenders face criminalization, interrogation, intimidation, are harassed and monitored digitally for humanitarian work, such as the distribution of water, food and medicine, the administration of shelters for migrant families, the accompaniment of asylum applicants, observation at ports of entry in the US and legal representation of migrants.
The report also warns that another source of risks for defenders derives from the presence of criminal networks, nationalist militias and non-governmental armed players at seven locations.
“It is important to say that in the majority of cases that we document in the report come from the authorities of the different countries,” said Sandra Patargo, of the Front Line Defenders organization, refering about the aggressors in the cases presented in the study.
According to Carolina Jimenez of Amnesty International, “governments have tense, difficult, complicated relationships. Mexico and the United States are going through one of their worst moments bilaterally, but when it comes to cooperating to restrict Human Rights there is absolute collaboration.” The NGOs urged the Mexican government to stop “the criminalization of migrants who organize in their trajectories to defend their human rights,” “monitor and limit the actions of the National Guard regarding shelters and detention of migrants” and “provide precautionary measures for migrants and defenders.”
For more information in Spanish:
Agresiones a defensores de migrantes se agudizaron tras acuerdo México-EE.UU (El Diario el 24 de septiembre de 2019)
Denuncian aumento de agresiones a defensores de migrantes tras acuerdo México-EU (SIDIDH el 25 de septiembre de 2019)
Difamación, acoso y agresiones: aumentan amenazas contra defensores de migrantes tras acuerdo con EU (Animal Político el 25 de septiembre de 2019)
Informe: DEFENSORES SIN MUROS (Front Line Defenders el 24 de septiembre de 2019)
Acuerdo entre los gobiernos de Trump y AMLO: ¿una victoria o traición a México? (Animal Político el 14 de junio de 2019)
For more information from SIPAZ: