From July 7th to 15th, 2020, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) held its 176th Period of Sessions online “in view of the seriousness of the situation that the region and the world are going through due to effects on the health of millions of people as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19)”. Topics such as “processing petitions, cases and precautionary measures, as well as issues of monitoring the human rights situation, especially on the impact of COVID-19 on their protection, were addressed.” The Commission also held three meetings with civil society organizations to receive information on the human rights situation in the region.
On July 13th, the National Network of Human Rights Defenders in Mexico, the Mesoamerican Initiative of Women Human Rights Defenders, Front Line Defenders, the organizations that make up the CSO Space for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists and the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), participated in a bilateral meeting with Commissioner Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño to address the situation of the defense of human rights and free expression in Mexico after the pandemic.
In the space, the CSOs stressed that “since the start of the contingency, at least 10 defenders have been murdered (four of them women and two journalists) and the criminalization of three defenders has been reported, among many other attacks such as stigmatization, repression and threats. At the same time, the campaigns of physical and digital harassment, information blockades, discrediting and intimidation are intensifying.”
They reported that, “although there are bodies with clear responsibilities for this problem, such as the Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders and Journalists, serious limitations persist to reduce the risk in which the beneficiaries are found; and there is no recognition of the differential causes and the social, economic and political effects that COVID-19 entails.” They also expressed their concern “for the aggravation of the structural barriers that threaten the defense of human rights and free expression. Among them, the deepening of militarization (…) as well as the excessive use of force against protesters amid restrictions on mobility adopted by local governments.”
They asked the IACHR, among others, to make recommendations to federal and state authorities regarding the situation of human rights defenders and journalists in Mexico in the context of the pandemic; as well as technical assistance aimed at implementing the recommendations issued by human rights organizations related to human rights defenders and journalists in order to address the risks caused by post-COVID-19 health and recovery measures.
Subsequently, CSOs reported that the IACHR expressed its interest in providing technical advice to the government of Mexico aimed at implementing international recommendations regarding the protection of human rights defenders and journalists.
For more information in Spanish:
La CIDH culmina su 176 Período de Sesiones virtual (CIDH, 19 de julio de 2020)
Al menos 10 activistas han sido asesinados en México desde el inicio de la contingencia: ONG (Proceso, 16 de julio de 2020)
Denuncian a CIDH mayor riesgo para defensores de DDHH y periodistas en México (Vanguardia, 16 de julio de 2020)
For more information from SIPAZ: