National Network of Women Human Rights Defenders in Mexico – On February 5th, members of the National Network of Women Human Rights Defenders in Mexico met with Michel Forst, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, in the course of his official visit to Mexico.
A group of women defenders from Mexico City, Coahuila, Chihuahua, Michoacan, Guerrero, Oaxaca and Mexico State spoke to the Rapporteur about the situation of violence they face due to the nature of their work, as well as their concerns over the escalation of such violence in the context of the upcoming elections.
Rapporteur Forst was responsive, as usual, to the problems raised by the women defenders. He repeated his interest in meeting with them at every opportunity and in lending visibility to the situation explained in each of their reports.
Accordingly, he disclosed that in 2019 he plans to prepare a report on the subject of women defenders and said that this issue will be a key element in his Mexico Report, soon to be presented to the UN Human Rights Council. In the same vein, he mentioned that there will be a special emphasis on women defenders in the 2018 celebrations of the Twentieth Anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.
Women defenders in Mexico provided Michel Forst with updated figures on the attacks they have experienced during Enrique Peña Nieto’s six-year term of office. These include the murders of 23 women defenders, the most recent being that of Guadalupe Campanur Tapia from the indigenous community of Cheran, Michoacan; and at least 83 arbitrary arrests of women defenders, 15 of which occurred recently in Michoacan during teacher union protests over the lack of salary payment.
Issues discussed in the meeting with Forst included online violence against women defenders; the impacts of socio-political violence on women defenders; the situation of territorial defenders; the situation of women defenders in the North of the country, where there is a heavy presence of organized crime groups; the situation of women defenders in the state of Guerrero; and an early alert regarding women defenders in Chihuahua.
In conclusion, RNDDHM members urged the Rapporteur to:
- Pay special attention to and monitor the situation of women defenders in the context of the upcoming elections, as well as the cases of forced displacement of women defenders.
- Insist that officials at all levels of government acknowledge the work of women human rights defenders in the face of the recurrent attacks, particularly smear campaigns, to which they are subjected.
- Foster guarantees to women defenders of their right to choose personnel outside State institutions as providers of psychological and health care with the aim of avoiding revictimization.
- Call on protection mechanisms and agencies charged with investigation and the administration of justice to consider cybernetic attacks against defenders a grave issue.
- Establish a direct means of attention to highly serious incidents against women defenders.
- Ensure visibility to women defenders and their struggles during the celebrations of the Twentieth Anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.