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

May 16, 2015


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)

Oaxaca: Attack on members of the Assembly of Indigenous Peoples of the Isthmus in Defense of Land and Territory (APIIDTT) by construction workers tied to the Wind-Energy Firm of the South

May 14, 2015


In a communique published on 4 May, members of the Mesoamerican Initiative of Human-Rights Defenders (IM-Defensoras), which is comprised of more than 690 human-rights defenders from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Nicaragua denounced that the activists Bettina Cruz Velázquez and Rodrigo Peñaloza from the Assembly of Indigenous Peoples of the Isthmus in Defense of Land and Territory (APIIDTT) were persecuted and intimidated by armed men who work in construction for the Wind-Energy Firm of the South on 16 April.

The events took place as Bettina Cruz Velázquez and Rodrigo Peñaloza were heading home after participating in a meeting with the Council that was being held in Juchitán, where Katia Puga was also present, being a representative from the Energy Secretariat (SENER).  The activists were verbally attacked and followed by a group of construction workers linked to the Wind-Energy Firm of the South.

The communique stresses that “these events took place even as Bettina Cruz is a beneficiary of the precautionary measures awarded by the Mechanism for Protection for Human-Rights Defenders and Journalists, as put on by the Governance Ministry (SEGOB), and which, according to Bettina Cruz herself, failed her, for she pressed the ‘Panic Button’ provided by the Mechanism during the confrontation, but it malfunctioned […].  We should also not forget that Bettina Cruz has just finished with a prolonged process of criminalization on the part of the State, during which she was accused of fabricated charges for the sole reason of punishing and making difficult her work in defense and promotion of human rights in the communities of the Tehuantepec Isthmus that resist the imposition of the wind-energy megaproject that threatens their lands.”

The rights-defenders demanded that authorities “guarantee the security and physical and moral integrity of Bettina Cruz Velázquez and other members of the Assembly of Indigenous Peoples of the Isthmus in Defense of Land and Territory; prevent, prosecute, and sanction dutifully all acts of aggression, coercion, and threats directed against members of the Assembly; and guarantee the observance of free, prior, and informed consent to the indigenous peoples of Juchitán with respect to the institution of the wind-energy project being advanced by the Wind-Energy Firm of the South according to established international standards.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Eolica del sur, con hombres armados intimida a opositores (Regeneración, 6 de mayo de 2015)

Nueva agresión a defensora tensa conflicto con empresa eólica (CIMAC Noticias, 5 de mayo de 2015)

Defensoras de Derechos Humanos condenan agresión de activista a manos de empresa eólica (Oaxacatrespuntocero, 4 de mayo de 2015)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Oaxaca: Activist Bettina Cruz is exonerated from federal charges (1 March 2015)

Oaxaca/National: Efforts to avert imprisonment of human-rights defender Bettina Cruz (26 de septiembre de 2014)

Oaxaca: Denunciation of harassment and death-threats against human-rights defenders in the Tehuantepec Isthmus (9 December 2013)

Oaxaca: Detention and subsequent release of rights-defender Bettina Cruz Velázquez (7 March 2012)

National: Nomination of new head of the Mechanism of Protection for Human-Rights Defenders and Journalists

May 14, 2015

Sara Irene Herrería Guerra (

Sara Irene Herrería Guerra (

On 2 May, the Secretary for Governance reported that Sara Irene Herrerías Guerra was named the new head of the Institute for the Defense of Human Rights within this agency.  She will be responsible for the Mechanism of Protection for Human-Rights Defenders and Journalists, making links with national and international organizations, as well as coordinating, orienting, and following up with the work for the protection and defense of human rights that is done in different federal institutions.

Herrerías Guerra was a social judge attending to victims of federal crimes and special prosecutor for violent crimes against women and human trafficking.

For more information (in Spanish):

Herrerías Guerra, nueva titular de Unidad para Defensa de los Derechos Humanos (Radio fórmula, 3 de mayo de 2015)

Sara Irene Herrerías, a la Unidad de Derechos Humanos de Gobernación(La Jornada, 2 de mayo de 2015)

Nombra Osorio nueva funcionaria para DH (El Universal, 2 de mayo 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)

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)

Oaxaca: Hunger strike over murders of Bety Cariño and Jyri Jaakkola concludes upon conclusion of agreement with authorities

May 18, 2014


Omar Esparza, former husband of Bety Cariño, together with other persons in solidarity who had engaged in a hunger strike in front of the Federal Attorney General’s Office (PGR) in Mexico City have ended their protest after 16 days upon reaching an agreement with the Secretary of Governance (SEGOB), the PGR, and the Oaxacan State Attorney General’s Office in which the latter institutions agree to arrest the 12 presumed perpetrators of the murders of Betty and Jyri Jaakkola and to provide protection to witnesses of the murders.

“In essence, the agreement is a commitment to carry out actions to protect those who witnessed the murders and to arrest those responsible.  The authorities have never said that they would not do their work, but it all remained at the level of talk and good intentions; now we have it signed in writing, and this gives us much certainty and tranquility,” said Karla Michel Salas, president of the National Association of Democratic Lawyers.

Esparza noted that “This is a small victory, but not the final one.  Instead, it is a beginning and we are going to be attentive to seeing whether the authorities follow through with their commitments and perform their work.  It is a first step to make visible the impunity that prevailed in the case.”  He added that he would hold monthly meetings with the SEGOB to evaluate progress in the case.

Beyond this, the UN Office in Mexico of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has promised Esparza to continue following the case and to call on the governments of Enrique Peña Nieto and Gabino Cué to “promote pertinent actions to re-establish dialogue and reconstruct the social fabric in the community of San Juan de Copala toward the end of transcending the causes that have led to the present situation there.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Activistas levantarán huelga de hambre; acuerdan acciones para capturar a asesinos de Betty Cariño (SDP noticias, 14 de mayo de 2014)

Cumplen 15 días en huelga de hambre (Noticias, 14 de mayo de 2014)

Levantan familiares de Bety Cariño el plantón frente a instalaciones de la PGR (La Jornada, 15 de mayo de 2014)

ONU-DH toma nota de acciones de apoyo por huelga de hambre de Omar Esparza (Grupo Fórmula, 15 de mayo de 2014)

Insta ONU a Peña y Cué a solucionar el conflicto en Copala (Proceso, 15 de mayo de 2014)

Video: 13 dias en huelga de hambre exigiendo justicia para Bety Cariño y Jyri Jaakkola (Serapaz, 14 de mayo de 2014)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

National/Oaxaca: Mothers of the disappeared express solidarity with Omar Esparza and his family on hunger strike (18 May 2014)

Oaxaca: In response to 4 years of impunity, hunger strikes and protests taken to resist murders of Bety Cariño y Jyri Jaakkola (2 May 2014)

Oaxaca: Three-year impunity continues in the case of the murders of Bety Cariño y Jyri Jaakkola (17 May 2013)

Oaxaca: 12 arrest-orders released against presumed material authors of the murder of the Mexican defender Bety Cariño and the Finnish observer Jyri Jaakkola (12 October 2012)