Chihuahua is one of the most dangerous areas of Mexico for the defense of human rights and journalism. According to the National Network of Civilian Human Rights Organisms "All Rights for All" (Red TDT), Chihuahua is the state with the highest number of human rights defenders killed and the state with the second highest number of journalists killed. Considering these attacks, a high percentage of human rights defenders count on precautionary protection measures given by the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights as well as measures from the Federal Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders and Journalists.
On 7th March 2016, 24 human rights organisations in Chihuahua put forward a petition to the Sub-secretary for Human Rights in the Ministry of Interior as the President of the Mechanism´s Governmental Board. Within this petition they demanded the urgent adoption of an Early Warning in order to prevent future aggressions against human rights defenders and journalists in the state of Chihuahua, within the framework of the Law for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists.
After filing this petition, a diagnostic was undertaken with respect to the situation for human rights defenders and journalists in the state. This was approved by the Governmental Board in July 2016 and the National Executive Coordination was instructed to elaborrate a Contingency Plan to tackle the serious human rights situation in which human rights defenders carry out their work.
Once the Contingency Plan was approved in June 2017, a dialogue was initiated between the civil society organisations who requested the Early Warning and the state and federal authorities. As a result of the diagnostic, several different topics were identified and working groups were set up to treat each one: (1) femicides, the vulnerable situation for migrants, groups of sexual diversity and gender-based violence, (2) the environment, (3) the situation in the Sierra Tarahumara, (4) violations against the freedom of expression and (5) transversal strategies.
At the request of the civil society organisations of the state of Chihuahua, PBI has been following up on the progress of the Contingency Plan since it´s implementation. This work includes presence as observers in the working groups three times a year and we communicate the advances of the Plan, in support of the public pronouncements of civil society, in our local and international advocacy which focuses on the adequate implementation of the Plan. As well as PBI, other international organisms accompany the process including the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Mexico, Amnesty International and the Delegation of the European Union in Mexico.
The requests from the civil society organisations with respect to the Contingency Plan are based in the identification of actions and preventative measures with the aim of eliminating all obstacles that prevent their work in safe conditions defending human rights in the state of Chihuahua. With this in mind, in the current situation they demand adequate implementation of the Plan and express their concerns over it´s temporality and the few advances acheived in the agreements in the working groups up until now.
PBI urges the Mexican Government to ensure the protection of human rights defenders in the State of Chihuahua and to ensure the full implementation of the Contingency Plan.