Last 27th April was the 10th anniversary of the deaths of Bety Cariño and Jyri Jaakkola1, two human rights defenders and activists murdered during the Humanitarian Caravan and Human Rights Observation Mission near the indigenous community of San Juan Copala in the State of Oaxaca. Their families and civil society organizations are still calling for justice 10 years after the tragic events.

The assassination of Bety and Jyri is still stirring indignation at international and national levels, not only because a decade has passed without the case being resolved, but also because it sheds light on the bleak reality human rights defenders are facing in Mexico. Their death evidences the impunity of attacks against human rights defenders in the country.

In the midst of the current global pandemic, organizations, collectives and communities in Mexico and worldwide commemorated the events and called for justice through online solidarity actions. The documentary Death in Mexico (Muerte en México2) was aired and an online dialogue with the director and the families of Bety and Jyri took place3.

The Delegation for the European Union in Mexico stressed in a declaration4 that “their deaths reflect the concerning levels of impunity, as well as violence, assassinations and intimidations that [human rights defenders] are facing in Mexico”. The Delegation calls Mexican authorities to “deploy all efforts and bring justice to the victims and their families in order to identify and prosecute the material and intellectual authors of the crime, so no “silence zones” continue to exist where human rights defenders do not dare working.”

According to statistics from the Interior Ministry of Human Rights, Migration and Population, the Federal Protection Mechanism registered 141 aggressions to human rights defenders and journalists, of which 60 were targeting human rights defenders. Since the sanitary emergency was declared on the 15th of March, the Federal Protection Mechanism have identified at least 44 aggressions against human rights defenders and journalists, the assassination of 2 journalists and 4 human rights defenders5.

As PBI Mexico we extend our solidarity to the families of the victims and share our concerns on the impunity in this case and many others involving persons exercising their legitimate right to defend human rights. We call the competent authorities to seek justice to prevent that aggressions against human rights defenders remain unpunished in Mexico.

Image by: Amnesty International