Mexico: REPORT: Arbitrary and illegal detentions – Criminalization: A state policy to hindrance the defense of Human Rights in Mexico

This document constitutes an articulated effort by different Mexican organizations of the civil society, committees of relatives of human rights defenders, political prisoners and international organizations specialized in legal support, documentation of human rights violations, and protection of human rights defenders.

This document aims to make public the systematic repression mechanisms used against human rights defenders and against the social movement in Mexico, in particular the use of arbitrary and illegal detentions to undermine the advocacy work.

The seriousness of the situation is illustrated through five cases of human rights defenders ‒Damián Gallardo Martínez, Enrique Guerrero Aviña, Librado Baños Rodríguez, Pedro Canché Herrera and Nestora Salgado García‒ who have been arbitrarily detained as a consequence of and reprisal against their advocacy work. To date, three of the five defenders remain unfairly deprived of their freedom.

With the publication of these cases, the aim is to make visible the existence of international mechanisms which make visible and recognize the human rights violations. These mechanisms are key tools in the pursuit of justice. Specifically, this document shows the opinions issued by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention of the United Nations calling for the immediate release of the victims and the redress of the damage.

However, the coordinated effort of organizations and families seeking the implementation of these decisions has demonstrated the need to create effective mechanisms to monitor the implementation by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, in close coordination with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner in Mexico.

The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is one of the special procedures of the United Nations Human Rights Council. It was created in 1991 by the former Commission on Human Rights (the current Human Rights Council) and it is made of five independent experts from the different regions of the world.

The mandate of the Working Group includes: 1. investigating cases on arbitrary detention; 2. requesting and receiving information from governments, non-governmental organizations, and victims and their families; 3. reporting annually to the Human Rights Council.

Amongst its main functions we can also find the field missions and the issuance of urgent actions.[1]

It is worth noting that the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, in the exercise of its mandate, interprets and applies international rules of international treaties that have been widely ratified by the Mexican government and incorporated into the national legal system by constitutional mandate. Under the procedures outlined in this document, Mexico has had full participation and opportunities to present arguments and evidence related to the complaints lodged.

“It is the only mechanism that has not been established by a treaty whose mandate expressly foresees individual complaints. This means that its activities are based on the right of individual petition, anywhere in the world.”[2]

The search for justice, and the eradication of human rights violations and impunity, particularly against human rights defenders, are an urgent priority in Mexico. To achieve this goal, strengthening and collaborating actively with international proceedings and mechanisms such as the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is essential.

The report is available here: Report Arbitrary Detention HRDs Mexico Sept 2016

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