PBI-Mexico calls for a specific investigative commission for attacks against environmental and land rights defenders
On March 28, this article was published in Spanish in Agencia Quadratín:
Peace Brigades International (PBI) considered urgent “a firm commitment” of the Mexican government to advance in the investigations and identify the material responsible and intellectuals of the threats and murders of human rights defenders in Mexico.
In a statement it was detailed that in the 46th session of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations (UN), in a parallel event, Mar Saiz Avendaño, European representative of the Mexico Project of PBI, although she recognized the existence of Mexico’s efforts to advance in this regard, “impunity persists reaching alarming levels of 98%.”
This was expressed in the event “Towards the eradication of murders and threats against human rights defenders in Mexico”, parallel to the United Nations sessions, which brought together the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Mary Lawlor, with various civil society organizations, this March 11.
The Mexican government, Saiz Avendaño stated, should consider the creation of a specific investigative commission for attacks on environmental and land and territory rights defenders, taking into account that they are 70 percent of the 19 defenders murdered in Mexico during 2020.
In the case of grievances against defenders in Mexico, Saiz explained, the installation of specialized prosecutors and the creation of independent investigation groups (such as the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts for the Ayotzinapa case) have been mechanisms capable of advancing in the right to truth and justice.
In order to achieve its objectives, “it is crucial” that these bodies be made up of independent experts and that their members have the support of Mexican human rights organizations, she explained.
The PBI proposal was based on the Lawlor report “Last Warning: Human Rights Defenders, Victims of Death Threats and Assassinations”, which contains a recommendation to “create commissions of inquiry when there is a sustained number or significant increase in murders of defenders.”
On another topic, the PBI representative expressed her concern about the elimination of the trust that finances the Mechanism for the Protection of Journalists and Human Rights Defenders, of the Ministry of the Interior, “even with a multitude of voices, Mexican and international actors against this decision.”
“Inevitably this will weaken the Mechanism’s capabilities,” she said; “We are concerned that the protection of defenders will be relegated and urgent needs will no longer be addressed.” She explained that the existing lags may be aggravated and the Mechanism has yet to develop measures according to the specific protection needs of women and their families, and the collective protection needs that affect communities and groups.
The event was called by the civil society organizations themselves: Peace Brigades International (PBI), Consortium for Parliamentary Dialogue and Equity Oaxaca, German Coordination for Human Rights in Mexico, Human Rights Center of Montaña Tlachinollan, Front Line Defenders, World Organization Against Torture, Bread for the World, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Project (ProDESC), National Network of Women Human Rights Defenders in Mexico and International Service for Human Rights.
The full article can be read in Spanish on the Quadratín Agency website.