On March 17th, the Mexican Center for Environmental Law (CEMDA) presented a report in which it reiterated the danger that environmental defenders face in Mexico.
Entitled “Report on the Situation of Environmental Human Rights Defenders,” the document highlights that between January 2012 and December 2019, there were 499 attacks against environmental defenders and 83 murders.
According to the report, of the violent actions against defenders, the authorities were responsible for 179 of the attacks – 114 by state governments, 42 by municipal authorities, and 22 by the federal government.
Regarding the role of the State and the conditions of danger, the report stresses that: “Despite the measures that the Mexican State has adopted, it is observed that no progress has been made in the country in a structural change that generates the appropriate and safe conditions for the exercise of the right to defend human rights. Currently, we still find discourses and narratives from the government that disqualify and stigmatize the defense of human rights, which polarizes the perception of society, managing to delegitimize and create a hostile environment so that other attacks can be committed against these people.”
29% of all attacks were related to energy projects. Therefore, it is not surprising that Oaxaca was the state with the highest number of attacks, with 79 cases. Sonora was the second with 49 attacks, and the State of Mexico the third, with 48.
During the year of 2019, the first full year of the Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) government, there were 39 attacks against environmental defenders, 15 of them being murders.
The report includes ten recommendations to guarantee the work of environmental defenders. One of them is to ratify the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Access to Justice in Environmental Affairs in Latin America (Escazu Agreement), an international treaty that seeks to establish rules for the protection of the environment. 22 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have signed the agreement, including Mexico, but only 6 have ratified it.
For more information in Spanish:
Informe sobre la situación de las personas defensoras de derechos humanos ambientales CEMDA, marzo de 2020.
En México persiste el riesgo para defensores del medio ambiente: Cemda El Proceso, 17 de marzo de 2020.
Hubo 83 asesinatos a defensores ambientales entre 2012 y 2019: Cemda La Jornada, 17 de marzo de 2020.
For more information from SIPAZ:
National: 21 Environmental Defenders Murdered in 2018 (CEMDA) (April 1, 2019)