National: Nomination of new head of the Section on Human Rights for the Ministry of Governance

April 26, 2014

Víctor Manuel Serrato Lozano, nuevo titular de la Unidad de Derechos Humanos de la Secretaría de Gobernación (@Quadratin)

Víctor Manuel Serrato Lozano, new head of the Section on Human Rights in the Ministry of Governance (@Quadratin)

On 10 April, Víctor Manuel Serrato Lozano was named the new director of the Section on Human Rights in the Ministry of Governance.  Serrato Lozano was president of the State Commission on Human Rights in Michoacán (2007-2011) and had been working in the Naitonal Commission on Human Rights (CNDH) under the supervision of the director general of the Program of Grievances from Journalists and Civil Human Rights Defenders.  In this charge, he participated as a member of the Council of Government for the Mechanism for the Protection of Human-Rights Defenders and Journalists, an operation that now will be his responsibility.

Édgar Cortez, member of the consultative council of the Mechanism for Protection of Human-Rights Defenders and Journalists, noted that this would represent an advantage, given that “he shares to a great extent the diagnostic of the problems and needs that exist.  He does not begin as a nobody, and we hope that this will be reflected in his work.”

Following this nomination, the councilors for civil society reunited with the Council of Government of the Mechanism, having resigned from the same on 24 March upon denouncing its deficient functioning.  In a reunion with Lía Limón, Subsecretary on Human Rights of the Ministry of Governance, they suggested a series of points they consider “priorities for the effective functioning of the Mechanism and the security guarantees required by journalists and human-rights defenders in the country.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Comunicado de las Consejeras y Consejeros del Mecanismo de protección al reintegrar la Junta de Gobierno (11 de abril de 2014)
Serrato Lozano, nuevo titular de la Unidad de Derechos Humanos de Gobernación (La Jornada, 11 de abril de 2014)

Consejeros se reintegran al mecanismo de protección a activistas y periodistas (Proceso, 11 de abril de 2014)

Designa Segob titular para Unidad de Derechos Humanos (El Universal, 10 de abril de 2014)

Designan a titular de la Unidad de Derechos Humanos de la Segob(Proceso, 10 de abril de 2014)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

National: A delicate moment for the Mechanism for the Protection of Rights Defenders and Journalists (30 March 2014)

National: launching of Consultative Council of Mechanism for Protection of Journalists and Rights-Defenders (26 October 2012)

National: Approval of Law for the Protection of Human-Rights Defenders and Journalists (16 May 2012)

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National: A delicate moment for the Mechanism for the Protection of Rights Defenders and Journalists

March 30, 2014

imagesNearly two years after its creation, the Mechanism for the Protection of Rights Defenders and Journalists in Mexico finds itself in a delicate moment, in light of the resignation of its head, Juan Carlos Gutiérrez Contreras, on 15 March, a situation has led to multiple questionings regarding its efficacy.  On 24 March, civil councilors of the Mechanism retired from the Governmental Council headed by the subsecretary for Governance, Lía Limón García, given their view that there do not exist adequate conditions for its functioning.

Since June 2013, civil-society organizations have presented a diagnostic regarding deficiencies within the Mechanism.  At present they identify structural failures: the impossibility of having a stable and qualified team due to constant firings, the fact that the full budget set aside for the organism is not yet accessible, and a delay in attending to cases.  Edgar Córtez, one of the civil councilors, detailed for example that until February of this year, the mechanism had received 152 petitions for aid, of which 22 were rejected, 89 were pending, and only 41 had been reviewed and discussed.  This implies that at least 70% of the requests have not yet been considered.

In a communique, civil society called on the Secretary of Governance “to assure in the coming election of the next Executive Coordination of the Mechanism that the designated person have proven experience in human rights, as national and international civil society organizations and journalists have noted in recent days, that a labor policy be established so that those who work for the Mechanism have their rights respected, and that [the Mechanism] work urgently to develop a priority means of responding to the problems identified with the mechanism with defined actions and results to achieve.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Pronunciamiento de OSC sobre las fallas del Mecanismo de Protección a Personas Defensoras de DH y periodistas (OSC, 27 de marzo de 2014)

Mecanismo de protección a periodistas falla y sus deficiencias no son atendidas: defensores (Animal político, 27 de marzo de 2014

Fallas estructurales en el Mecanismo de Protección de Defensores de Derechos Humanos y Periodistas (La Jornada, 26 de marzo de 2014)

Crece inconformidad contra Lía Limón; consejeros civiles la dejan sola (Proceso, 24 de marzo de 2014)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

National: launching of Consultative Council of Mechanism for Protection of Journalists and Rights-Defenders (26 October 2012)

National: Approval of Law for the Protection of Human-Rights Defenders and Journalists (16 May 2012)


Guerrero: Presentation of book “Accompanying hope: 20 experiences in defense and promotion of human rights” in Chilpancingo

February 14, 2014

Presentación "Acompañando la esperanza" en Chilpancingo (@RedTdt)

Presentation of book “Accompanying hope: 20 experiences in defense and promotion of human rights” in Chilpancingo (@RedTdt)

On 10 February in Chilpancingo, Guerrero, there was held a book presentation of “Accompanying hope: 20 experiences in defense and promotion of human rights,” which forms part of the campaign “Let us defend hope” as promoted by the Network “All Rights for All” (TdT).

On the panel for the presentation were  the following persons: Javier Hernández Valencia, representative in Mexico of the UN High Commissioner’s Office on Human Rights; Edgar Cortez, from the Mexican Institute for Human Rights and Democracy; Abel Barrera Hernández, director of the  Tlachinollan Mountain Center for Human Rights; and Agnieszka Raczynska, executive director of TdT.  All speakers agreed on the gravity of the situation of those displaced by violence in the state.

The TdT Network also reiterated its concern for the situation faced by human-rights defenders in Guerrero, given that amidst a generalized situation of violence, this state has registered the highest number of attacks (including murders) against rights-defenders in Mexico.  “These communal defenders are those who, in the majority of cases, find themselves at greatest vulnerability of being criminalized, repressed, and above all delegitimized, especially when their communities organize themselves against private interests comprised of powerful groups that promote developmental models that are foreign to the vision of local peoples or who impose violence and fear,” noted Edgar Cortez.

For more information (in Spanish):

Expresan OSC preocupación por incremento de agresiones y asesinatos contra líderes sociales, defensores y defensoras en Guerrero (Comunicado de la RedTdt, 10 de febrero de 2014)

Alarma a la ONU el éxodo por violencia en Guerrero (La Jornada, 10 de febrero de 2014)

Guerrero, entre los estados más riesgosos para defensores de derechos humanos: ONG (la Jornada de Guerrero, 11 de febrero de 2014)


National: Activists criticize attempt by Court to limit reach of international treaties

September 16, 2013

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Photo @Carlos Ramos Mamahua

The attempt by some justices of the Supreme Court for Justice in the Nation (SCJN) to constrain the place of international human-rights agreements when they contradict the Magna Carta is an regressive attitude that practically could serve to nullify the advances seen in the constitutional reforms of June 2011, social activists have warned.  On 1 September, Edgar Cortez, investigator for the Mexican Institute on Human Rights and Democracy (IMDHD) indicated that if the highest court in the country limits the reach of international treaties, “we will regress to a time before the constitutional reforms on human rights, such that the conventions would be subordinated to the Constitution.”  Raúl Ramírez Baena, director of the Citizens’ Commission on Human Rights in the Northeast, said that “the call to control conventionality obligates all the authorities of the countries, particularly judges, to find the broadest legal protection for human rights, including that for international agreements, but this attempt would effectively cause all to be nullified.  Litigants would be able to refer only to the text of the Constitution.”

In terms of this discussion, persons and human-rights organizations have stressed in an open letter that “the resolution adopted by the Court will directly impact the consolidation of the constitutional reform of 2011, in terms of hte system of protection of basic rights in the country and thus the lives of millions of Mexicans.”  As the letter mentions, “We make an energetic call to the Supreme Court justices to recognize that all persons enjoy the human rights recognized at the national and international levels, and we call on them to take an appropriate position with the object and text of the human-rights reform in mind, thus avoiding a restrictive or regressive interpretation.  From the decision of the SCJN will depend the advance of the effective realization of basic rights in Mexico.”
Similarly, Amnesty International in its web page calls on “the justices to guarantee that their decision accord with the reform of the first article of the Constitution which took place in 2011, thus confirming the place of the principle pro persona, that is to say, the application of the norm which will be most favorable to the protection of the person in case of a conflict between the Constitution and international human-rights treaties.”
For more information (in Spanish):

Critican activistas intento de la Corte de limitar convenios internacionales (La Jornada, 31 de agosto de 2013)

La Suprema Corte debe reafirmar los avances constitucionales en la protección de los derechos humanos (Amnistía Internacional, 2 de septiembre de 2013)

Llaman a la SCJN a confirmar el sentido original de la reforma en DH (Centro ProDH, 2 de septiembre de 2013)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Mexico: Constitutional reform on human rights approved (2 June 2011)


National: launching of Consultative Council of Mechanism for Protection of Journalists and Rights-Defenders

October 26, 2012

Agnieszka Raczynska @ redtdt.org.mx

On 19 October, the work of the Consultative Council of Mechanism for Protection of Journalists and Rights-Defenders formally began.  This organization will protect these subjects when their lives are at risk due to the work they engage in.  The Council is comprised of people from civil society who specialize in human rights, journalism, and academia.

The Consultative Council will have in its membership Agnieszka Raczynska, the Executive Secretary of the Network All Rights for All; Edgar Cortéz, from the Mexican Institute for Human Rights and Democracy; Michael Chamberlain, director of Initiatives for Identity and Inclusion; and Juan José Perdomo, president of the National Network of Organizations of Older Adults, the Retired, and Pensioners. In the area of freedom of expression and journalists, members will include Rogelio Hernández, director of the House for the Rights of Journalists; Jade Ramírez, recipient of the National King Prize of Spain; Jorge Israel Hernández, collaborator of Masters degrees in journalism from the Center for Investigation and Economic Teaching A.C. (CIDE); and José Buendía, executive director of the Press and Democracy Foundation. As academics, Pablo Romo, members of Services and Assessment for Peace (Serapaz), and Armando Hernández Cruz, doctor of jurisprudence from UNAM will participate.

In a press-release signed by several civil-society organizations, these indicate that “we have reached yet another success so that in Mexico there be an institution that protects rights-defenders and journalists.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Boletín de prensa: OSC de DDHH y de Libertad de Expresión en México consiguen avanzar en instalación del 1er mecanismo que protegerá a defensores y periodistas (19/10/2012)

La Jornada: Integran consejo consultivo que protegerá a periodistas y defensores de derechos humanos (20/10/2012)

Página3: Nombran Consejo del Mecanismo de Protección a Personas Defensoras y Periodistas (20/10/2012)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

National: Approval of Law for the Protection of Human-Rights Defenders and Journalists (16 May 2012)


Mexico/US: Merida Inititative. Interviews and reporting from SIPAZ

August 20, 2008

[Source: Amnesty International USA]

SIPAZ recently conducted an interview with Luis Arriaga Valenzuela, director of the Agustín Juarez Pro Human Rights Center (Centro Prodh) in Mexico City, on the topic of human rights with regard to the Merida Initiative. He spoke at length on Centro Prodh’s belief that the subject of human rights should be “a core theme” within the Merida Initiative negotiations. However, Arriaga stated that there is indeed a lack of human rights language in the plan. Centro Prodh’s stance is that there should be included the “creation of a mechanism between government authorities and the civil society, including NGO’s that specialize in human rights, in order to implement the Merida Initiative with higher standards of protection” for fundamental guarantees.

Arriaga pointed out the findings in a recent study published by Centro Prodh on human rights violations perpetrated by military personnel. One disturbing discovery uncovered in the report is the statistic that shows that the majority of the victims of human rights violations due to military actions were women and minors. He stated the importance of trying military personnel in civil courts as opposed to military tribunals, where civilian victims have little or no access to justice. Read the rest of this entry »


Mexico: “Protest is a Right, Repression is a Crime.” Statement from Edgar Cortez (Red TDT)

August 19, 2008

Edgar Cortez presents the “Protest is a Right, Repression is a Crime” campaign at Centro Prodh

Edgar Cortez, Executive Secretary of the National Network of Civil Organizations for Human Rights ‘All Rights for All’ (Red TDT, Red Todos los Derechos para Todas y Todos), spoke on the organization’s national campaign “Protest is a Right, Repression is a Crime” at the First National Meeting of Human Rights Defenders and Family Members of Political Prisoners and Prisoners of Conscience which took place July 24 through 26 in Mexico City.

The introduction to his comments touched on the poverty in Mexico as well as the lack of human rights vigilance stating that “there is not only an economic inequality, but rather this inequality is translated into an inequality of the possibility of enjoying all of one’s rights.” His remarks revolved around the recent constitutional reforms of the Mexican judicial system which were approved on June 18 of this year. While Cortez admits that there are some good changes made in the reform, the definition of “organized crime” has been extended so broadly that it may very well be applied to social protest and social activists. His presentation refers to the fact that “the full weight of the law” is used against social protest without evidence or the guarantee of due process.” The presentation also claims that “in Mexico, rights are used to ‘mistreat those they should care for, persecute those they should protect, ignore those they should pay more attention to and serve those they should control.’”

Read the rest of this entry »