UNO Special Rapporteur Visits Mexico to Evaluate Human Rights Situation
February 5, 2017
Michael Forst, UNO Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders. Photo@MuralChiapas
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst, visited Mexico from January 16 to 24 with the aim of assessing the situation of human rights defenders and evaluating the efforts made by the Mexican authorities for their protection. After traveling the country from Mexico City to the states of Chihuahua, Guerrero, Oaxaca and the State of Mexico, and meeting more than 800 defenders from 24 states, 60% of whom were women, the UNO Rapporteur noted “high levels of insecurity and violence faced by defenders in the country” in a “complex context marked by organized crime, corruption and state repression.”
Based on his observations, Forst points out that, “the situation of human rights defenders is marked by the criminalization of their activities through the undue and deliberate use of criminal law and manipulation of punitive power by both state and non-state players, to prevent and even avoid the legitimate activities of defenders to promote and protect human rights.” He also added that “the use of arbitrary arrests and detentions as an instrument to silence dissident voices and to curb social movements is also worrying (…) in many cases, those who defend human rights by reporting violations committed by the authorities are criminalized and face indirect reprisals through attacks or criminal proceedings directed against their families or people close to them.”
The Special Rapporteur expressed concern about the fact that “98% of crimes in Mexico are not solved”: “The low rate of successful investigations and solution of crimes committed against human rights defenders has generated a generalized sense of impunity.” He continued and warned that, “The lack of investigation and sanction of the aggressors sends a dangerous message that there are no consequences for committing such crimes. This creates an environment conducive to the repetition of violations.”
“Impunity has become the cause and effect of the general insecurity of human rights defenders in Mexico,” the Special Rapporteur warned at the close of his official visit to the country and presented a preliminary report with a series of recommendations to the authorities and other players to strengthen the protection of human rights defenders and facilitate their important work. Forst concluded by reaffirming his willingness to provide assistance to all players interested in combating impunity and ensuring the protection of defenders in Mexico.