On April 20 and 21 of 2009, the “International Forum on the Criminalization of Human Rights Defenders and Social Protest” took place in the Chilpancingo, the capital of the state of Guerrero. It was organized by various human rights organizations from Guerrero and the Due Process of Law Foundation (DPLF, based in the US), with the goal of dealing with the serious situation which confronts human rights defenders in Mexico and in Guerrero in particular, as well as discussing possible responses to this situation. The long title of the forum is a result of the wide definition of human rights defenders (from the UN), a concept which is wider than just legal defense and involves many social movements as well.
Katya Salazar, the director of the DPLF, and Abel Barrera, the director of the Human Rights Center of the Montaña Tlachinollan (CDHM Tlachinollan) began the forum by denouncing the general tendency to criminalize human rights defenders, which has worsened in the last few months, especially in the Guerrero with the cases of Raúl Lucas Lucía and Manuel Ponce Rosas, members of the Organization for the Future of the Mixteco People (OFPM) who were abducted, tortured, and executed in February, the closing of the offices of the CDHM Tlachinollan in Ayutla for security issues, and the threats and violence that the members of the Organization of the Indigenous Me’phaa People (OPIM) have suffered. Emilie Joly, of the DPLF, stressed that in Guerrero there existed a three-step pattern of criminalization of human rights defenders: the closing of channels of dialogue and negotiation, the repression of civil, peaceful protests, and the use of judicial processes against human rights defenders (disproportionate or fabricated crimes against them, and the lack of investigation into threats and violence against human rights defenders).
The next day, the tables of discussion analyzed the reality of the situation and evaluated plans of action. They concluded with a final declaration including various denunciations and demands.
For More Information (In Spanish):
Comunicado: ONG denuncian las tendencias de desprestigio al trabajo de los defensores en AL, Red Nacional de Organismos Civiles de Derechos Humanos \”Todos los derechos para todas y todos\” (20/04/09)