UN experts urge Mexico to counter current ‘smear campaign,’ support right defenders

6 April 2016

Three United Nations human rights experts today urged the Government of Mexico to express its full support for the work of human rights defenders and civil society organisations, and actively counter the current stigmatisation campaign to undermine their work.

“The Mexican authorities should publicly recognize that defending human rights and victims of violations of human rights is not only legitimate, but fundamental to strengthen rule of law, accountability, and democracy within the country,” said Michel Forst, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.

The experts’ appeal comes amid a wave of criticism of human rights defenders, non-governmental organisations and members of international human rights bodies in various Mexican media outlets.

In a targeted media campaign over the past month, several human rights defenders and civil society organizations have been accused of fraud and corruption, of defending alleged criminals and falsely claiming torture thus promoting impunity.

“The work carried out by human rights defenders and civil society in Mexico has actively contributed to promoting victim’s access to justice and truth, and is particularly important in a context where serious human rights violations occur and for a large part remain in impunity,” Mr. Forst stated.

“Any attack against the work carried out by human rights defenders creates a deterrent effect, silencing dissenting views and expressions by all those who exercise their right to freedom of expression or freedom of peaceful assembly and association,” said David Kaye, UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression.

“The Government needs to counter such attacks and take measures to ensure a safe environment for individuals and civil society, free of harassment of any sort,” added Maina Kiai, UN Special Rapporteur on the freedoms of peaceful assembly and association.

Independent experts or special rapporteurs are appointed by the Geneva-based Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.

 

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