National/International: WOLA presents new report: “Human-rights violations against migrants continue”

December 27, 2015

On 18 Novembrer 2015, the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) published a report on the human-rights situation of migrant and refugee persons in Mexico from 2014 to present, with a focus on the changes implemented since the start of the Southern Border Program.  Compiled by nine civil organizations based in Mexico and the U.S., the report “An uncertain path: Justice for crimes and human-rights violations against migrants and refugees in Mexico” exposes the problem of security and access to justice for migrants.  Since the implementation of the Southern Border Program, the operations, arrests, and deportations of migrants in Mexico have increased significantly, and so have human-rights violations.  Migrant homes have observed a rise in the abuses and crimes committed by organized and State agents against this population, including kidnapping, robbery, extortion, and trafficking of persons.  In the case of girls and women, more sexual violence has been reported.  As a result of these measures, the number of arrests of foreigners rose 73% between July 2014 and June 2015, relative to the same period the previous year.  “If the indicator for the Southern Border Program is the arrest of persons, obviously it has been very successful, but if it is placed within the context which it was developed, that is to protect the human rights of migrants, it has failed […].  In Mexico, where there are migrants, there is violence,” observed Maureen Meyer, member of WOLA. Beyond this, the civil groups have demanded that the Mexican State “guarantee access to justice, compensation for damages incurred, humanitarian visas, and refuge for the migrant population.”

According to the report, the U.S. government has offered political and economic support for Mexico to carry out the Southern Border Program since the burgeoning number of arrivals of unaccompanied children and adolescents to the U.S. border.  This support has to do with especially with activities related to border security in southern Mexico.  In light of this situation, the civil organizations made nine recommendations to the U.S. and Mexican governments to address the problem.  Among these is one directed at the National Institute for Migration, calling on it to strengthen internal control and to prevent violations of human rights.

For more information (in Spanish):

Informe “Un camino incierto. Justicia para delitos y violaciones a los derechos humanos contra personas migrantes y refugiadas en México” (Oficina de Latinoamérica en Washington, WOLA, 18 de noviembre de 2015)

Sin desagregar por sexo denuncias de agresiones a migrantes (Cimac Noticias, 18 de noviembre de 2015)

Siguen violaciones a DH de migrantes: WOLA (El Universal, 18 de noviembre de 2015)

ONG: crecieron detenciones de migrantes, pero también abusos (La Jornada, 18 de noviembre de 2015)

“Un camino incierto: Justicia para delitos y violaciones a los derechos humanos contra personas migrantes y refugiadas en México” (Fundar, 11 de noviembre de 2015)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

National/international: The IACHR expresses concern before hardening of Mexican authorities toward migrants (30 June 2015)

Mexico/National: Honduran migrant dies of drowning in presence of migration agents, says La 72 (22 March 2015)

Chiapas/National: Bishops of southern Mexico pronounce themselves on the “drama of migration” (8 February 2015)


National/International: WOLA requests that U.S. suspends the Mérida Initiative

July 21, 2015

WOLA

The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), together with another seven human-rights Mexican and U.S. organizations, has requested that the U.S. government arrest the resources earmarked for the Mérida Initiative, due to the fact that the Mexican State has not observed its requirements in terms of human rights. In 008, when the Initiative began, the U.S. Congress made the resources destined for Mexican security forces conditional on significant advances in the realm of human rights. “To detain these resources would signify a very clear message that the U.S. condemns the grave human-rights violations seen in Mexico,” explained Maureen Meyer, the primary coordinator of WOLA in Mexico. In their report, the organizations indicated that, according to their investigations and data, in addition to the findings made by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment, Mexico has not progressed in this sense. “In general, to provide Mexican security forces with more training and equipment while corruption and abuses go on unchecked does not contribute to security in the country, but instead continues exacerbating an already grave human-rights situation,” notes the memo.

For more information (in Spanish):

Piden a EU retener fondos a México por derechos humanos (LaJornada, 9 de julio de 2015)

El memorándum completo (WOLA.org, 9 de junio de 2015)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Mexico/US: 15% of the funds of the Mérida Initiative may be tied conditionally for human-rights concerns (18 May 2012)


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)


National/International: PBI and WOLA publish report on Mechanism for the Protection of Journalists and Human-Rights Defenders in México

February 10, 2015

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On 3 February, the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) and Peace Brigades International (PBI) published a report that evaluates the Mechanism for the Protection of Journalists and Human-Rights Defenders, which has existed formally in Mexico for a little over two years.  While the report recognizes the “importance of the Mechanism and the courageous work done by the team that comprises it,” it also identifies a number of areas in which “improvements are needed, using several cases that will serve as examples to illustrate these weaknesses.”

The report details how Mexico has become one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists and human-rights defenders: “During the first nine months of 2014, the Mexican section of the international organization Article 19 documented 222 aggressions against journalists; […] and between January 2011 and December 2013, the ‘All Rights for All’ National Network of Civil Human-Rights Groups documented 27 cases of human-rights defenders being murdered as a result of their labor.”

The report on the Mechanism notes that, “since the beginning, the lack of personnel and funds has limited the capacity of the Mechanism to respond efficiently to urgent petitions it receives from journalists and human-rights defenders.  A large part of the constrained number of personnel who were initially assigned to the Mechanism have not been adequately trained, were insufficiently qualified, and had merely temporary contracts.”  It indicates that “there has been an accumulation of cases for the Mechanism, and the majority of the human-rights defenders and journalists who have submitted petitions to the Mechanism have had to wait many months, and on some occasions longer than a year, with no response.”

According to WOLA and PBI, there was seen “bad communication between the beneficiaries and the personnel of the Mechanism,” as well as a “lack of coordination among the different organizations involved in the process,” leading to “grave failures in the provision of protection.”

Both organizations lamented that the investigations linked to aggressions against journalists and rights-defenders “have not advanced,” thus maintaining a situation of near-total impunity in these cases.  They stressed that, worst of all, the government has deployed forces “to discredit and criminalize the rights-defenders and human-rights organizations,” hence sending the “worrying message that the government neither respects nor recognizes the courageous work of human-rights defenders.”

For more information (in Spanish):

El Mecanismo de Protección para Personas Defensoras de Derechos Humanos y Periodistas en México: desafíos y oportunidades (WOLA y PBI, 3 de febrero de 2015)

Periodistas y activistas están desprotegidos por el gobierno: WOLA y BPI(Proceso, 3 de febrero de 2015)

Gobernación no protege ni a periodistas ni a activistas: ONGs desde Washington (Sin Embargo, 3 de febrero de 2015)

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)


National: Strong criticisms of Enrique Peña Nieto’s first year in office

December 8, 2013

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Enrique Peña Nieto. photo @enelareachica

On 27 November, the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) indicated  that during the first year of Enrique Peña Nieto’s term in office, there have been seen very few advances in terms of security and human rights, and that a great number of violations have taken place against fundamental rights that go completely unpunished.  On 26 November, Human Rights Watch announced by means of a public letter that the change in administration has been ultimately rhetorical and that the government “has not demonstrated significant advances in the investigation of past abuses of power, and new grave human-rights violations continue without redress.”

Human Rights Watch has identified cases that demonstrate that soldiers and police continue to commit serious abuses under Peña Nieto’s watch.  The open letter mentions the example of the “murder of three campesino leaders in Guerrero, who were found on 3 June, after having been taken against their will together with 5 others on 30 May.  The previous day, members of the social movement to which they belong had presented a formal denunciation before the authorities expressing their fear that the mayor and the chief of police might well have ordered the murders.”  The WOLA collective emphasized that the declarations of the government and good intentions have not resulted in concrete actions to date.  “Until there are more advances to combat the impunity which prevails in Mexico, the discourse of the government on human rights will continue to be little more than pretty words.”

For more information (in Spanish):

México: el decepcionante primer año de Peña Nieto (Human Rights Watch, 26 de noviembre de 2013)

Peña Nieto aplica la misma táctica de seguridad de Calderón: WOLA (La Jornada, 28 de noviembre de 2013)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Mexico: Insufficient attention from EPN to human rights (20 March 2013)

National: Polemical ascension to power of EPN ( 7 December 2013)