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Mexico
27.08.18
Urgent Interventions

Joint Open Letter to President-Elect López Obrador: To put an end on the criminalisation of human rights defenders must be a priority for the new Mexican government

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JOINTOPEN LETTER

Geneva-Paris-Dublin-Munich

August27, 2018

Mr. Andrés Manuel López Obrador
President-Elect of Mexico

RE: To putan end on the criminalisation of human rights defenders must be a priority forthe new Mexican government

HE. Mr. President-Elect,

As we prepare for the inaugurationof the new Mexican government that you are going to lead, international humanrights organisations attentively address you in order to express our concernover the serious crisis that Mexico is experiencing in relation to the right todefend rights, and urge your administration to include, as a central theme inits human rights agenda, an end to the criminalisation of human rightsdefenders in Mexico.

In Mexico there is a serious patternof criminalisation of social protest, evident in the existence of numerouscases of arbitrary detention and unfounded judicial proceedings which haveviolated the right to due process of human rights defenders in the country.This phenomenon is particularly serious because of its evident aim ofparalysing and delegitimising the causes for which human rights defendersfight.

The pattern of criminalisation inMexico has not only been repeatedly denounced by non-governmental organisations[1], buthas also been confirmed by the United Nations through its Working Group onArbitrary Detention. The Working Group has issued 8 Opinions - which remainunenforced - in which it declared the arrest of 32 different human rightsdefenders to be arbitrary and demanded their immediate release. Five of theopinions were issued in the space of just over one year, between August 2014and December 2015. This was an unprecedented event, since it was the first timethat the Working Group issued such a number of opinions on the same country insuch a small period of time.

Our organisations are particularlyconcerned about the high rate of criminalisation against defenders in the stateof Oaxaca. This has also been pointed out by the UN, which has previouslyhighlighted the existence of a pattern of violations against human rightsdefenders there. Indeed, 6 of the 8 Opinions issued by the Working Group are oncases of defenders from Oaxaca, including the cases of Damián Gallardo (Opinion 23/2014), Enrique Guerrero (Opinion 55/2015) and Librado Baños (Opinion 19/2015), as well as a collective case thatincludes 22 members of Sol Rojo who were arbitrarily detained in 2015 afterattending a public demonstration (Opinion 17/2016). It should be noted that inaddition to the cases already mentioned in which there have been UN Opinions,our organisations are aware of at least 6 other cases[2] ofdefenders who are facing criminalisation in Oaxaca.

Our organisations express theirconcern over the situation of defenders in Oaxaca, where the defense of humanrights not only implicitly results in criminalisation of social protest butalso involves particularly serious violations of human rights such as forcibleexile, illustrated by the case of the indigenous defender Juan Sosa Maldonado, who has been in exile since 2013 aftersuffering a serious attack on his life, and forced disappearance, as in thecase of human rights lawyer ErnestoSernas García, who disappeared on 10 May 2018.

In light of the foregoing, ourorganisations emphasise the urgency of the implementation of safeguards for thework of human rights defenders in Oaxaca. We also highlight that it should beof great priority for the incoming government to respond to the requests of thefamilies of criminalised human rights defenders, as well as of the organisationsthey represent, in order to show its commitment to the resolution of thiscrisis in Oaxaca and as a necessary step for action on the worrisome situationin the whole country.

We also highlight that ourorganisations reject an alternative where criminalised human rights defendersmay be beneficiaries of an amnesty, and demand in return that their releasetake place without leaving room for doubt over their innocence, through theresolution of their processes according to law, respecting all international humanrights standards and in full compliance with all the UN Opinions.

Mr.President-Elect, we thank you for your attention, and with assurances of ourutmost consideration:

  • World Organization Against Torture (OMCT), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
  • FIDH, within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
  • Front Line Defenders
  • Ecumenical Office for Peace and Justice


[1] See Joint Report publishedin 2016 by 11 Mexican and international non-governmental organizations:"Arbitrary and illegal detentions - Criminalization: A State policy toinhibit the defense of human rights in Mexico". Available here: http://consorciooaxaca.org.mx/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/informe_detenciones_arbitrarias_mexico_sept_2016.pdf

[2] Thecases of Norma Cleyver Cruz Vazquez,Nicasio Zaragoza Quintana, Teofilio García López, Felipe Rojas Ordunio, JoaquínZárate Bernal and Antonio ZárateBernal. @font-face { font-family: Arial;}@font-face { font-family: "Courier New";}@font-face { font-family: Wingdings;}@font-face { font-family: Wingdings;}@font-face { font-family: "Liberation Serif";}p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0cm 0cm 0.0001pt; font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }p.MsoFootnoteText, li.MsoFootnoteText, div.MsoFootnoteText { margin: 0cm 0cm 0.0001pt 14.15pt; text-indent: -14.15pt; font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }p.MsoHeader, li.MsoHeader, div.MsoHeader { margin: 0cm 0cm 0.0001pt; font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }span.MsoFootnoteReference { vertical-align: super; }a:visited, span.MsoHyperlinkFollowed { color: purple; text-decoration: underline; }p { margin: 5pt 0cm; font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }span.En-tteCar { }span.NotedebasdepageCar { }.MsoChpDefault { font-size: 10pt; }div.WordSection1 { }ol { margin-bottom: 0cm; }ul { margin-bottom: 0cm; }

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