Mexico: Investigate death threats against defenders working on business and human rights

23.07.2014

The Mexican State must take immediate steps to prevent and ensure accountability for threats and attacks against those work on the issue of business and human rights, the International Service for Human Rights said today.

(Geneva) – The Mexican State must take immediate steps to prevent and ensure accountability for threats and attacks against those work on the issue of business and human rights, the International Service for Human Rights said today.

ISHR is deeply concerned by the latest death threats and harassment suffered by the organisation Comité de Defensa Integral de Derechos Humanos Gobixha (Código-DH), whose members have previously participated in panels at ISHR side events in Geneva.

Since Código-DH began supporting indigenous communities in demanding their right to a prior, free, informed consultation regarding large-scale development projects in Oaxaca State, both their staff and the communities they are working with have consistently suffered death threats and attacks.

The threatening phonecalls of recent weeks explicitly warned that staff would suffer grave reprisals if they continue to support Carmen Ruiz, a woman human rights defender from the Asamblea Popular del Pueblo Juchiteco (APPJ) which opposes the apparent imposition of a wind farm on their ancestral lands.

ISHR urges the Mexican State to take action to protect Código-DH and the APPJ, but also to respond to the broader phenomenon of attacks against defenders working on corporate accountability and environmental rights. The organization ProDESC and its Director Alejandra Ancheita -nominated for the 2014 Martin Ennals Award - have suffered defamation, threats and attacks for working on similar issues, whilst both national and international organisations have proven that defenders working on these issues are some of the most vulnerable in the country.

‘It is the responsibility of the Mexican State to condemn and investigate these attacks, as well as protecting defenders from further reprisals’ said Ben Leather, Advocacy and Communications Manager at ISHR. ‘Mexico approved a recent resolution on Business and Human Rights at the Human Rights Council, which recognised the positive role that defenders play in promoting corporate responsibility, and last year passed important national legislation for the protection of human rights defenders. It is now time for them to lead by example in putting their international and constitutional obligations into practice’.

Código-DH’s protective measures, granted by the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, have not been consistently implemented by the Mexican State and in recent months security at their offices has apparently been tampered with. Their offices were ransacked and their lawyer Alba Cruz received death threats last year shortly after Alba participated in an ISHR event on criminalisation. Members of the APPJ and ProDESC have been granted protective measures by the National Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists; again, the beneficiaries complain of under-implementation.

‘The risks facing defenders working on business and human rights defenders in Mexico clearly reflect the global trend identified by both the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders’, said Mr. Leather. ‘These recent events reiterate the urgency that States implement the recommendations of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights to ensure the protection of defenders who raise awareness of the impacts of business activities and to communicate to business enterprises that they also need to respect their rights’.

ISHR calls upon the Mexican authorities to:

  • Publicly condemn the threats and harassment suffered by Código-DH.
  • Carry out a speedy, exhaustive and impartial investigation into these incidents and ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.
  • Guarantee the security of all human rights defenders.
  • Develop and implement a National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights which contemplates the protection of human rights defenders.

Contact: Ben Leather, Advocacy and Communications Manager, on b.leather@ishr.ch or + 41 78 779 48 59

Category:

Region
  • Latin America and Caribbean
Topic
  • Corporate accountability
  • Human rights defenders
  • NGOs
  • Reprisals and intimidation
  • Women's rights and WHRD
Mechanism
  • Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council
  • UN Human Rights Council
  • National HRDs laws/policies
Country
  • Mexico