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Defending the Defenders

March 17, 2014

The Human Rights Council (HRC) has been heavy with panels about human rights defenders this week, showing that there is an increasing need to discuss the protection of people who risk their lives for human rights.

Killings and Disappearances in Mexico

On Tuesday we attended a side-event on creating and enabling a safe environment for human rights defenders.

At the panel, Mexican human rights defender, Daniel Joloy, gave insightful comments on their situation.

The Mexican government passed a law in 2012 on investigating human rights violations, establishing an advisory committee formed by civil society members who also drafted the text. This law was the result of UPR recommendations, proving that the system can work if enough organisations are stubborn and determined enough to push states.

However, the Mexican government has no willingness to implement the law and impunity remains almost absolute. Further, it continues to attribute responsibility of violations against human rights defenders solely on organised crime.

When the government announced the war on drugs, a militarisation of public security started, with the presence of armed forces in the streets, which lead to people being killed and disappeared. Armed forces have also requested criminal gangs to do the dirty work for them.

Side event flyer on: ¿Diplomacia progresista, avances normativos y prácticas regresivas? México frente al Consejo Derechos Humanos?

To learn more about the rights of human rights defenders in Mexico, keep in touch, and if you are around Geneva attend the side event WILPF is co-sponsoring on this topic.

Visibility is Key

When a state refuses to deal with impunity, it is our job as civil society members to recognise the importance of human rights defenders’ work and give them as much visibility as possible.

Visibility is part of their protection. For example, many human rights defenders face reprisals when trying to interact with bodies such as the HRC. What the HRC can do in these situations is meet with human rights defenders publicly, issue press releases, gather documentation and proof of violations from NGOs and present this to the state in question and the international community.

Finally, specifically in Mexico, the media needs to be involved and brought on our side, since for now it continues to criminalise human rights defenders and contribute to their stigmatisation.

WILPF will be talking about this very soon

WILPF and other organisations will be holding a side event on human rights defenders in Mexico from a woman’s perspective on 19 March. We will discuss similar issues of stigmatisation, but also feminicide, an outrageous crime which proves that in Mexico, being a human rights defender as well as a woman, has now become extremely dangerous.

Stay tuned for an account on the event!

Sign up to our newsletter Update from the Human Rights Council to know more about these issues and our involvement!

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