2020 has been a year that we will never forget and that brought us countless challenges.
In Mexico, during the health emergency, while there were some advances, we also noted a series of worrying setbacks. We recognise that important actions were taken to attempt to resolve the serious issue of people who have been forcibly disappeared and are still yet to be located across Mexico. These include the recognition by the Mexican State of the competence of the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances, the publication of the Standardised Protocol for Searching for Disappeared and Missing Persons and the agreement to establish the Extraordinary Mechanism for Forensic Identification. It is also significant that the Escazú Agreement – the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean – was ratified, which will now allow the treaty to enter into force. This will promote the right to live in and protect a healthy environment; above all, it will make it incumbent on States to protect those who protect that healthy environment. On the other hand, despite organised civil-society groups warning the government of the importance of maintaining a human rights focus as it attends to the health crisis and implements its responses, the situation has been very complicated. With the government’s austerity policy, 109 public trusts were cut, among them the Fund for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists, as well as the Trust Fund for Help, Assistance and Holistic Reparation. It is unclear what the plan is for institutions – like the Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders and Journalists or the Executive Commission for Attention to Victims– to continue with their mandates to protect human right defenders (HRDs) and victims, given there has been no end to the violence against HRDs.
According to a report on the situation of individuals defending human rights and freedom of expression in Mexico, between the beginning of the pandemic and October 2020 there were at least 18 killings of HRDs, including nine environmental HRDs for a life free from violence, discrimination against women and the LGBTTTIQA+ community, as well as four journalists.
Amid all of this and much more, and in a global pandemic, it has not been easy for PBI Mexico to remain in the country. With a reduced physical presence, and an increased digital presence, we have managed to continue our work to open spaces for human rights defenders to continue their struggles.
We would like to recognize through this publication the organizations and human rights defenders that we had the honor of accompanying, as well as expressing our deep gratitude to the people of PBI, for their tireless work and dedication.