Experts call on Mexico to ensure funding for Journalists and Human Rights Defenders Protection Mechanism

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ZETA.-On the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, four human rights experts urge the Government of Mexico to adopt all necessary measures to ensure continued and sufficient funding for the Federal Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders and Journalists to prevent future financial crisis.

The experts from the United Nations and the IACHR have found that the Protection Mechanism had made significant progress, but still lacks sufficient resources to fully exercise its mandate.

The experts also highlight their concerns regarding the little progress in eradicating impunity for crimes against journalists and human rights defenders. On the Day to end the impunity for Crimes against Journalists, the experts believe it is imperative for Mexican authorities to strengthen the role of the Special Prosecutor's Office for the Attention of Crimes Committed against Freedom of Expression [Fiscalía Especial para la Atención de Delitos cometidos contra la Libertad de Expresión] (FEADLE) so that it can use its legal authority to investigate and prosecute crimes against journalists.

“We welcomed actions taken by the Government of Mexico to provide funding for the operation of the Protection Mechanism throughout the transition period, but remain concerned about recurring financial challenges that have impaired its continuing operation”, they said.

The Mechanism provides protection to more than 700 people. During 2018, several authorities and civil society organizations raised the alarm that the Mechanism´s funds were to be depleted by the end of September. On September 5, the Mechanism's Advisory Board warned about the imminent lack of resources necessary to carry out its functions and the failure of the Government to meet its commitments”. Since 2016, the budget of Mechanism has been decreased and in 2017, it also faced a financial crisis.

After their visit to Mexico, the Rapporteurs observed the Mechanism is the most important public policy for the protection of human rights defenders and journalists in the country. “Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for human rights defenders and journalists and a fully funded Protection Mechanism is simply essential to effectively prevent more attacks", they affirmed.

The experts reiterate that “an ambitious Government effort to increase the Mechanism’s capabilities and budget will serve the goal of better protection and would also send a message of political will to make journalist and human rights defender safety a national priority”.

The experts call the Mexican authorities to strengthen capabilities and provide adequate funding for the prosecutors in charge of investigate and prosecute crimes against journalists and human rights defenders, by adopting, among others, an investigation protocol, reinforcing investigation strategies and training, reorganizing its internal structure,  improving communication with victims and increasing coordination with local authorities. Also, take note of the actions recently taken by FEADLE to exercise jurisdiction regarding the investigations of the murders of journalists Javier Valdez and Miroslava Breach in 2017 and arrest the possible authors of these crimes. 

The experts highlight their willingness to continue collaborating with the Mexican government to strengthen the Mechanism, and the adequate and full implementation of the recommendations issued during and after their official visits to the country.

*The experts: Mr. David KayeUN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Mr. Michel ForstUN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders Mr. Edison LanzaIACHR Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression; and Mr. Francisco José Eguiguren PraeliRapporteur on human rights defenders of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

Mr. Kaye and Mr. Forst, as Special Rapporteurs, are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.

Mr. Lanza was appointed as Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression in July 2014 by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression was created by the IACHR to encourage the defence of the right to freedom of thought and expression in the hemisphere, given the fundamental role this right plays in consolidating and developing the democratic system.

 

Mr. Francisco José Eguiguren PraeliRapporteur on human rights defenders of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, was elected on June 16, 2015, by the OAS General Assembly, for a 4-year mandate ending December 31, 2019. A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

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