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Mexico’s Law to Protect Journalists and Human Rights Activists Remains Ineffective

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Just one year ago last week, the Law for the Protection of Rights Defenders and Journalists was officially declared in Mexico, creating a clear legal base for the protection of human rights defenders and journalists.  The passage of this law was seen as a positive step towards recognizing both the important role that journalists and human rights defenders play in Mexico’s democratic development, as well as the responsibility of authorities to protect rights defenders and journalists in the face of ongoing targeted violence, threats and attacks…

In marking this one-year anniversary, many of the human rights defenders that this law was created to protect have voiced concerns regarding weaknesses in the mechanism, noting that it still lacks the adequate staff, resources and political backing to make it a viable, effective mechanism.  Also, many of the human rights defenders and journalists who have registered threats and aggressions continue to be the victims of new aggressions.

According to statistics issued by the Interior Ministry (Secreataria de Gobernacion), the Mechanism has received 64 requests for help to date, 19 of which have entered the ‘extraordinary process’ which requires the implementation of urgent protective measures within twelve hours.  The ability of the mechanism to respond to these requests for protection has been hampered since many critical positions remain unfilled and program funds have not been released.  There have also been complaints of a lack of coordination between Federal and State authorities in the protection of human rights defenders and journalists. 

These concerns prompted civil society groups to send a pointed letter to Secretary of Interior Osorio Chong calling on him to address the lack of resources, staff and political and institutional and political support that have prevented the mechanism from functioning effectively.  (click here to read the letter in English, click here to read the letter in Spanish)

Mexico’s efforts to rebuild its social fabric will be compromised as long as journalists and human rights defenders continue to suffer threats and attacks with impunity.  Important steps have been taken to create the Protection Mechanism, but LAWG joins with other organizations in urging the government of Mexico to work hand in hand with civil society groups to ensure the robust implementation of this potentially groundbreaking institution.    

For more information on the Protection Mechanism, download Peace Brigade International’s recent briefing.