The General Council of Spanish Lawyers Awards the 2010 Human Rights Prize to the Organisation of the Me'phaa Indigenous People (OPIM) who are accompanied by PBI.

The Mexican journalist Rosa Isela Pérez and the Iranian human rights defenders Mohammad Mostafaeí, Nasrin Sotoudeh and Javid Houtan have also received prizes.

The Organisation of the Indigenous Me´phaa People (OPIM), from the State of Guerrero in Mexico, has won the Human Rights Award in the category 'institutions'.

PBI Accompaniment of the OPIM

PBI has provided international accompaniment to members of the OPIM since 2005 in the response to permanent violations of their right to justice, impartial investigation and sanction for their aggressors. In particular, PBI accompanies the OPIM President Obtilia Eugenio Manuel, and other human rights defenders whose rights to protection from attacks and violence both as women and human rights defenders are under constant attack.

Invisible and Forgotten

In many parts of the world, indigenous minorities are victims of exclusion and threatened with disappearance. In the mountainous regions of Guerrero, the Me`phaa indigenous people have historically suffered extreme poverty, abandonment, discrimination and the systematic violation of their human rights. Hundreds of Campesinos - men and women - from the six Me´phaa indigenous communities came together in 1994 to form the OPIM in order to combat the oppression they suffered. Their constant efforts to reconstruct their communities and denounce the systematic violations of their human rights have inspired the General Council of Spanish Lawyers to present this award in a ceremony in Madrid on December 10.

Threats Continue

Ever since its foundation, the members of the OPIM have been threatened and harassed for denouncing human rights violations and corruption in the municipality of Ayutla de los Libres, Guerrero. Their important cases have included the rape of Inés Fernández Ortega and Valentina Rosendo Cantú by soldiers of the Mexican army. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights condemned the Mexican State for these crimes in August 2010.

On November 9, the Foundation of the General Council of Spanish Lawyers will also publish the report Impunity and Defencelessness: The Case of Inés Fernández Ortega and Others vs. Mexico. The report presents the results of the delegation of independent lawyers and human rights experts that visited Mexico to investigate inadequacies in the access to justice and investigation of aggressions against the members of the OPIM. The Inter-American Court ruled that the Mexican State is responsible for the security of the members of the OPIM given the serious risks they face as a result of their involvement in the case.