National/International: International organizations call Mechanism for Protection for Human-Rights Defenders and Journalists into question

May 16, 2015

Mecanismo

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):

National/International: PBI and WOLA publish report on Mechanism of Protection for Human-Rights Defenders and Journalists in Mexico (10 February 2015)

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

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Chiapas: OMCT and FIDH urge protection of Simojovel priest

April 23, 2015

Padre Marcelo Pérez, parroco de Simojovej (@SIPAZ)

Padre Marcelo Pérez, priest from Simojovel (@SIPAZ)

In an Urgent Action published on 2 April, the Observatory for the Protection of Human-Rights Defenders, comprised in part by the World Organization against Torture (OMCT) and the International Human Rights Federation (FIDH), called on the Mexican State to guarantee the security and physical and psychological integrity of the priest Marcelo Pérez Pérez, priest from the Simojovel municipality, who “has received constant death-threats, attacks, and harassment which threaten his life.”  Similarly, it requested security guarantees for the others members of the Parish Council and the Believing People who live here, as they also “have received death-threats.”

For this reason, the Observatory has called on the Mexican State to “carry out an immediate investigation that is independent, exhaustive, effective, and impartial regarding the threats and acts of intimidation, toward the end that those responsible are taken to a competent, independent, just, and impartial tribunal, and that the appropriate penal, civil, and/or administrative sanctions stipulated in the law.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Urgen a proteger a párroco chiapaneco amenazado (La Jornada, 7 de abril de 2015)

Urgen al gobierno garantías para párroco de Simojovel por amenazas(Proceso, 6 de abril de 2015)

Acción Urgente completa: México: Amenazas de muerte, hostigamiento, seguimiento y vigilancia en contra del Sr.Marcelo Pérez Pérez (OMCT, FIDH, 2 de abril de 2015)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: New threats against members of the Believing People in Simojovel after their fifth pilgrimage demanding security and peace (12 November 2014)

Chiapas: Urgent Action concerning threats to Marcelo Pérez, priest of Simojovel (28 June 2014)


International/National: national and international warning regarding the increase in the number of aggressions against defenders of the land, territory, and environment

December 16, 2014

index

In observance of the presentation of the report “We no longer fear: Defenders of the land, attacked for confronting savage development,” Mexican civil-society organizations warned of the increase in the number of attacks on defenders of the land, territory, and environment in the country.

In the report that was presented, the International Federation on Human Rights (FIDH) documents 106 cases of harassment against 282 defenders of the land and 19 civil organizations in this line of work throughout the world.  It denounces that 95% of the cases have gone unpunished, due to the “incapacity of the States to hold perpetrators accountable, either through their actions or inaction.”

In the case of Mexico, the Mexican Center for Environmental Law (CEMDA) calculates that, from the beginning of 2013 to April 2014, 82 attacks took place on environmentalists, 35 of them in Oaxaca, with 9 in Puebla, 8 in Mexico State, 6 in Morelos and Veracruz, and 3 cases in Chiapas, Mexico City, and Sonora each.

The majority of the registered attacks took place within the context of wind-energy projects (30), mines, dams, highways, public policies, geothermal energy, and aqueducts.

37 of the attacks were perpetrated by authorities; in 30 cases, the perpetrators were unknown; in 5, attacks were carried out by people of the same community (who generally favor the project in question), in 3, organized crime was to blame, while in another 3, the question was related to people associated with firms who promote megaprojects.  Lastly, in 6 cases perpetrators were described as having ties to the authorities.

In the presentation of the FIDH, Adrián Ramírez, from the Mexican League for the Defense of Human Rights (LIMEDDH), warned also of the recently announced 10 points made by President Enrique Peña Nieto, given that these “place emphasis on supporting the states where megaprojects have been attempted to be imposed, amidst strong popular objections.  That is to say, the idea is to provide economic incentives to these megaprojects, as if the problem in Oaxaca, Chiapas, and Guerrero has to do with development and not social inequality.”

Axel García, from the Mexican Commission for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights (CMDPDH), noted that for his part the number of documented cases registered by the Observatory “does not reflect all the attacks suffered by defenders.  These are only paradigmatic cases.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Informe de la FIDH “No tenemos miedo. Defensores del derecho a tierra: atacados por enfrentarse al desarrollo desenfrenado

Informe sobre ataques a personas defensoras ambientales 2014 (CEMDA)

Preocupantes, ataques a defensores del derecho a la tierra por proyectos eólicos (La Jornada, 5 de diciembre de 2014)

106 casos de violencia contra defensores de la tierra en los últimos tres años (Animal Político, 3 de diciembre de 2014)

En 16 meses hostigan y atacan a 82 ambientalistas en México, acusa el Cemda (Sin Embargo, 3 de diciembre de 2014)

Aumentan agresiones contra defensores de la tierra y de los pueblos indígenas (Proceso, 2 de diciembre de 2014)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

National: Mexico, one of the most dangerous countries for environmental defenders (12 June 2014)