PBI-Mexico meets with the State Security Commissioner of Chihuahua

Published by Brent Patterson on

The PBI-Mexico Project has met with the State Security Commissioner of Chihuahua to express concern about the risks faced by human rights defenders in the state of Chihuahua, especially in Ciudad Juárez and in the Sierra Tarahumara.

On June 26, the International Day in Support of the Victims of Torture, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) encouraged Mexican authorities to elaborate and implement a national strategy to combat torture.

The OHCHR described the situation as “a chronic and generalized problem”.

PBI-Mexico has accompanied the Paso del Norte Human Rights Centre (Centro de Derechos Humanos Paso del Norte) in Chihuahua since 2013.

The Centre verifies and documents human rights violations by security forces there.

PBI-Mexico has noted on its website, “The Centre’s main areas of work are a comprehensive defence of rights and the accompaniment of victims of human rights violations, with a focus on cases of torture and enforced disappearances.”

On June 6, El Mexicano reported (in Spanish), “From 2011 to May 2019, the Centro de Derechos Humanos Paso del Norte, A.C. has documented nearly 200 cases of torture that occurred in the different police corporations in Ciudad Juarez.”

That article continues, “Organizations such as the Peace Brigades International-Mexico Project showed their support for human rights advocates in their fight to combat torture in Juarez.”

The security situation is also serious for Indigenous land and water defenders in the Sierra Tarahumara region of Chihuahua.

In October 2018, Julián Carrillo Martínes, an Indigenous Rarámuri land and water defender, was killed in that region. He was an outspoken defender of Indigenous rights, an opponent of deforestation, and concerned about the impacts of mining.

In January 2017, two other Rarámuri land defenders, Isidro Baldenegro Lóperz and Juan Ontiveros Ramos, were killed in Chihuahua. Lóperz was dedicated to stopping illegal logging, while Ramos was defending his ancestral territory of Choréachi from illegal logging and illegal land grabbing for illicit crop harvesting.

In a June 2018 letter to the editor published in The Guardian, Peace Brigades International (United Kingdom) stated, “Peace Brigades International (PBI) has provided protection to at-risk human rights defenders in the country since 2000, an experience that has shown us that in the federal states where a security strategy based on militarization has been implemented, attacks against activists have increased significantly.”

The Peace Brigades International-Mexico Project supports the call for the Mexican government to implement a comprehensive policy to improve the security situation for land and water, human rights, and Indigenous rights defenders so that they can carry out their work without risk of threats, harassment or death.

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