On March 11, 2021, the parallel event took place within the framework of the 46th session of the UN Human Rights Council: "Towards the eradication of murders and threats against human rights defenders in Mexico."
On March 5, 2021, Mary Lawlor, the UN Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, presented to the UN Human Rights Council her report: “Final warning: death threats and killings of human rights defenders”. In this report, she identified Mexico as one of the most dangerous countries for the defense of human rights, in particular for the defense of land and territory, as well as specific risks for women human rights defenders.
The event aimed to publicize the report and recommendations of the Rapporteur Mary Lawlor, ground it in the Mexican context and analyze the different situations and needs at the state level (the case of Oaxaca and Guerrero) and in populations that face particularly high risks (women defenders of land and territory).
At the event, coordinated by Consorcio para el Diálogo Parlamentario y la Equidad Oaxaca A.C. (Consorcio Oaxaca) and the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Project (Prodesc) and moderated by Olga Guzmán Vergara, participants included Mary Lawlor, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders, Consorcio Oaxaca, Prodesc, Front Line Defenders (FLD), International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), World Organization Against Torture (OMCT), International Peace Brigades, German Coordination for Human Rights in Mexico, and Bread for the World.
Below, we share PBI-Mexico’s presentation:
Thank you very much Olga and thank you to Consorcio Oaxaca and Prodesc for inviting us to participate in this event.
PBI shares this analysis of persistent violence against defenders in Mexico and we share the Rapporteur's assessment that "the murder of defenders is a red line that no state or non-state actor should ever cross." Thus, we agree that "killings can and should be avoided."
With at least 19 defenders killed in 2020, we are deeply concerned that the Mexican Government is not complying with its obligations and duty to protect.
Indeed, in Mexico, since 2012, there is a protection mechanism, which serves more than 1,300 defenders and journalists. Without a doubt, the protective measures granted have saved lives. However, the Mechanism has not always managed to activate in time to prevent assassinations. In this sense, the Mexican Government must redouble its efforts in preventive protection, that is, it must strengthen the Prevention, Monitoring and Analysis Unit.
At the same time, it is worrying that the elimination of the trust that finances the Mechanism was approved, even with a multitude of voices, of Mexican and international actors against this decision. This will inevitably weaken the Mechanism's capabilities. Now with the necessary economic recovery, we are concerned that the protection of defenders will be relegated and urgent needs will no longer be addressed. The existing lags may be aggravated and it is still pending to develop measures according to the specific protection needs of women and their families and the collective protection needs that affect communities and groups.
Very rightly, the Rapporteur recommends in her report “Protect and improve protection mechanisms”. To achieve this, the Mexican Government should redouble its efforts regarding the implementation of the recommendations made in the UN diagnosis on the operation of the Mechanism and continue with the roadmap initiated together with the Office of the High Commissioner.
Likewise, preventive protection is closely related to the fight against impunity. The installation of specialized prosecutors and the creation of the GIEI (Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts for the Ayotzinapa case) have been mechanisms capable of advancing the right to truth and justice. Despite the efforts, impunity persists at an alarming level of 98%. Therefore, a firm commitment from the Mexican Government is urgently needed to advance the investigations and identify those who are materially and intellectually responsible for the threats and murders of defenders.
To this end, I would like to highlight the recommendation to "create investigation commissions when there is a sustained number or a significant increase in murders of defenders." Taking into account that, in Mexico, 70% of the murdered defenders defended environmental, land and territory rights; the Mexican Government should consider this alternative of creating a specific investigation commission. And it is crucial that they are composed of independent experts and that their members have the support of Mexican human rights organizations.
In closing, I would like to thank Rapporteur Mary Lawlor for her report and the recommendations made. She has addressed key points such as comprehensive protection and a safe environment for defenders, two concepts on which we have been working a lot and that we would like to continue developing in partnership with the United Nations systems and the Inter-American Human Rights System.
Thanks a lot.