Cerezo Committee: 25 human rights defenders killed by state agents in Mexico in 2021

Published by Brent Patterson on

Photo: Luis Urbano Domínguez Mendoza, an Indigenous Yaqui water defender, was shot and killed in June 2021. He is one of 25 defenders identified by the Cerezo Committee in their report released this week.

On January 4, the Cerezo Committee released its annual report on the extrajudicial killings of human rights defenders in Mexico.

It found that 25 human rights defenders were killed in 2021 “as a state response to their work in defence of human rights”.

As explained in the report: “The figures presented are only of extrajudicial executions, that is, of murders that also constitute human rights violations insofar as they have been committed by state agents in the form of commission [directly by the state] or acquiescence [when the state sends a private individual to commit the killing of the defender].”

It further notes that:

– In 9 cases (32 per cent) the victims were Indigenous, in 19 cases (68 per cent) were mestizo (generally meaning people of both European and Indigenous descent), and 4 cases could not be determined.

– 12 of those killed were defenders of territory, 5 were defenders of a dignified life, 4 were environmentalists, 2 focused on the defence of human rights, 1 was a labour activist, and 1 defended freedom of expression.

– 5 of the killings benefitted private companies.

– The highest number of extrajudicial executions happened in Oaxaca (7 people), Chiapas (5 people) and Sonora (4 people).

– 59 defenders have been executed since Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador took office in December 2018 (17 in 2019, 17 in 2020, 25 in 2021).

The 15-page report by Comité Cerezo México can be read here.

The Cerezo Committee was established after the arrest (on August 13, 2001), torture and detentions of the brothers Alejandro, Héctor and Antonio Cerezo Contreras in maximum-security penitentiaries in Mexico. The Peace Brigades International-Mexico Project began accompanying the Cerezo Committee in 2002.

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