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Human rights activists targeted in attacks
Latinamerica Press
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Rights defenders are not protected in their line of work.

From 2011 to 2013, at least 27 human rights activists (11 women and 16 men) were assassinated, according to “The Right to Defend Human Rights in Mexico: Report on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, 2011-2013,” released July 3 by the National Network of Human Rights Organizations “All Rights For Everyone,” known as RedTDT. In those three years, another 171 people (56 women and 115 men) were victims of non-fatal attacks.

According to RedTDT, “In Mexico there are no adequate and integral policies ensuring safe envi¬ronments for the defense of human rights. This reveals that the Mexican state is short of instruments to protect defenders against aggressions. In a national context, the defenders in a situation of risk can appeal to the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) and each of the States’ Human Rights Commissions, which can grant precautionary or cautio¬nary measures. In the same way, the Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders and Journalists was enabled at the end of 2012. It procures and implements protection, prevention and preventive measures.”

Agnieszka Raczynska, an official with RedTDT, said during the report’s release that there has been a notable trend in criminalizing social protests, as evidenced by cases of arbitrary detentions “in which authorities arrest people who organized or participated in acts of civil disobedience, and are then accused of major crimes like ‘terrorism’ or ‘kidnapping’.”

Types of attacks
The report documents 42 types of attacks and/or human rights violations. The seven most frequently used are: death threats, threats, arbitrary detentions, physical assault, intimidation, violent deaths, and violations of the right to respect, honor and reputation.

“The most common aggressions are death threats, either in reference to men defenders (29) as to women defenders (20). In case of the male de¬fenders, arbitrary and illegal detentions are the second most recurrent. Threats appear as the second type of attacks used against women de¬fenders,” the study noted.

Raczynska highlighted that one of the primary findings in the report was that the majority of attacks are against those who defend the rights of women, indigenous populations, and sexual minorities.

“There is a criminalization not only of the act of protesting, but also of a difference of ideas, and of course that impacts the right to defend human rights as well,” she said.

RedTDT, which comprises 74 human rights organizations throughout the country, said there is a propensity to approve and implement legal mechanisms to limit social dissidence.

“A tendency conveyed in different reports on the situation of human rights defenders is the increasing practice of the improper use of legal frameworks against them, done mostly in two ways: in one hand, the increased use of the law to tamper and control the defender’s work; on the other, in the last few years we have seen how the adoption of restrictive legislations has considerably increased, affecting human rights defenders and limiting the range of their activities instead of giving them protection,” the report stated.

These restrictions include limits to accessing funding and other resources dedicated to civic organizations, in an attempt to “repress and silence the calls for democratic change or to evade responsibilities if human rights are violated,” the report said.

For Raczynska, “that is extremely concerning, because legislation is curtailing the right to defend human rights.”
—Latinamerica Press.

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