Posts Tagged ‘Mexico’

Sad symbolic number reached in Mexico: 100,000 disappeared.

May 17, 2022

The 100,000 officially registered disappearances in Mexico illustrate a long-standing pattern of impunity in the country, indicating the tragedy continues daily, UN human rights experts warned.

The Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED) and the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) on 17 May 2022 expressed grave concern about the growing numbers registered by Mexico’s National Register of Disappeared Persons

There are now over 100,000 people in Mexico’s national register of the “disappeared.” The UN says organized crime is among the leading causes of missing people in the country. Human rights organizations and relatives of the missing have called on the government to step up investigations and conduct searches more effectively

In the last two years the numbers have spiked from about 73,000 people to more than 100,000 — mostly men.

Mexico has seen spiralling violence since the war on drugs began in 2006, with over 350,000 people having died since then. Last year, the country of more than 129 million people saw 94 murders a day on average.

It’s incredible that disappearances are still on the rise,” Virginia Garay, whose son went missing in 2018 in the state of Nayarit, told news agency Reuters. “The government is not doing enough to find them,” said Garay, who works in a group called Warriors Searching for Our Treasures that seeks to locate missing loved ones.

Civil society groups that help try and locate missing people stress that many families do not report disappearances because of distrust in the authorities. The actual figure of missing people is therefore believed to be much higher than the official data.

Organized crime has become a central perpetrator of disappearance in Mexico, with varying degrees of participation, acquiescence or omission by public servants,” a report by the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances, released last month, said.

“State parties are directly responsible for enforced disappearances committed by public officials, but may also be accountable for disappearances committed by criminal organizations,” the report added.

The missing people include human rights defenders, some of whom went missing because of their own involvement in the fight against disappearances.

According to the UN committee, over 30 journalists have also disappeared in Mexico between 2003 and 2021. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2022/01/31/more-killings-of-journalists-in-mexico-in-2022/

https://www.ohchr.org/en/statements/2022/05/mexico-dark-landmark-100000-disappearances-reflects-pattern-impunity-un-experts

https://www.dw.com/en/mexicos-number-of-disappeared-people-rises-above-100000/a-61820055

Donovan Ortega, young Human Rights Defender from Mexico

February 5, 2022

We try to defend happiness from a principle of reality” – Donovan Ortega, Human Rights Defender.
Donovan Ortega is a human rights defender from Mexico who participated in the 2021 online edition of ISHR’s Human Rights Defender Advocacy Programme (HRDAP).
Donovan is responsible for the international advocacy agenda at the Fray Francisco de Vitoria Human Rights Center in Mexico, and had the opportunity to do advocacy activities at the Human Rights Council in the framework of Mexico’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR).

In this short video, he explains how his work will help to achieve his objectives and vision in the future.

More killings of journalists in Mexico in 2022

January 31, 2022

Mexican journalist Lourdes Maldonado dedicated her last program to a fellow journalist one day after he was gunned down outside his home, and then she described her own vulnerability covering the violent border city of Tijuana. She blasted Mexico’s corruption and accused a state official of drug ties before telling her viewers she had been under state government protection for eight months. “They take good care of you,” she said on her internet radio and television show called “Brebaje” or “Potion.” “But no one can avoid—not even under police supervision—getting killed outside your house in a cowardly manner.”

Her words eerily predicted her fate. Five days later, Maldonado was shot outside her home at 7 p.m. in the evening. She was the third journalist this year to be killed in Mexico. Their deaths over the span of a month is an unusually high toll in such a short period even in Mexico and drew the largest protest yet over the killings with thousands demonstrating nationwide on Tuesday. The murders have left journalists working in the most dangerous place for their trade in the Western Hemisphere — feeling angry and hopeless. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/08/24/killing-of-journalists-in-mexico-juan-carlos-morrugares-the-latest-victim/

And just now arrives the news that a fourth journalist has been killed:

Roberto Toledo, a journalist with an online news outlet was preparing to record a video interview Monday when he was shot by assailants, becoming the fourth journalist killed in less than a month in Mexico, the outlet’s director said. Roberto Toledo had just arrived at the law offices of the deputy director of the outlet, Monitor Michoacan, when three armed men shot him, said Monitor director Armando Linares, who had also planned to be there. See: https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/nation-world/story/2022-01-31/another-journalist-slain-in-mexico-the-4th-this-month

On Friday, a day after Maldonado’s funeral, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador returned to criticizing the press. He said that his government guarantees free speech but “very few journalists, women and men, are fulfilling their noble duty to inform. Most are looking to see how we fail.”

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, since the current administration began on Dec. 1, 2018, at least 32 journalists have been killed and 15 disappeared, despite a government program to protect them. See: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2022/01/19/international-press-institute-in-2021-45-journalists-died-doing-their-work/

“[T]he discrediting by the president is seen by others as permission to attack,” media advocate Leopoldo Maldonado (no relation to Lourdes Maldonado) says. Leopoldo Maldonado’s anger is shared by many in Mexico, as frustration and grief over their ever-growing number of dead peers pushes journalists to call for change. And despite promises by politicians like A.M.L.O., the government can do much more than conduct a simple investigation, because the inaction of the Mexican government is at the heart of the issue. Journalist violence isn’t solely the result of powerful cartels. Rather, journalist violence in Mexico is symptom of poor government policy, which creates dangerous social conditions, fails to hold perpetrators of violence accountable or build systems that protect journalists, and both directly and indirectly creates policies that hinder journalists.

On top of this on 28 January 2022 Mexican anti-femicide activist Ana Luisa Garduno Juarez was found dead by local authorities of southern Morelos state of Mexico in the early hours of Friday. Police reports said that a call was placed over gunfire inside a bar in Morelos’ Temixco city, on Thursday night. By the time authorities arrived, Garduno was found dead suffering gunshot wounds on her body. in this context, see also: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2022/01/dignified-justice-women-human-rights-defenders-mexico/

https://www.bakersfield.com/ap/national/slain-mexican-reporter-described-vulnerability-in-last-show/article_32e45eed-8bb4-5207-b020-6501f9ee82d1.html

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/latino/annihilating-journalism-mexican-reporters-work-attacks-killings-rcna14196

https://www.yenisafak.com/en/world/anti-femicide-activist-murdered-in-mexico-3588570

https://www.jurist.org/news/2022/02/amnesty-international-sounds-alert-over-20-human-rights-defenders-4-journalists-killed-in-january/

And see recent: https://www.jurist.org/news/2022/04/violence-against-journalists-in-mexico-increased-exponentially-under-current-administration/

International Press Institute: in 2021 45 journalists died doing their work

January 19, 2022

A total of 45 journalists died in 2021 while practicing their profession, with Mexico being the most dangerous country in the world for reporters, the International Press Institute (IPI) reported today in Vienna.

Seven Mexican journalists were assassinated this year for their work, with which the Latin American country once again leads the annual list of dead reporters. India and Afghanistan follow, each with six journalists killed, ahead of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with three.

In 2020, 55 journalists died around the world, eleven of them in Mexico. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/05/04/world-press-freedom-day-2020-a-few-more-links/

According to the IPI, a global network of media owners and editors, the safety of journalists remains a global challenge. For this reason, the Institute “urges the authorities to end impunity for these crimes and to guarantee the protection of journalists, who must be able to carry out their work freely and safely.”

Of the 45 journalists killed, 40 were men and five were women, the IPI detailed. Twenty-eight of them were killed for their work, three died while working in a conflict zone and two when covering internal disturbances in a country.

In eleven cases the causes of the deaths are still being investigated, while a journalist drowned while covering the rescue of an elephant from a river in India, showing how dangerous the profession can be.

The number of journalists killed this year is the lowest recorded by the IPI since 1997. However, the IPI emphasizes that the decrease in the number of journalists killed and assassinated is not an indication of the good state of press freedom in the world.

Waves of violence against the press can lead to self-censorship when journalists avoid certain topics that put their lives in danger,” says IPI.

This is made even worse in a climate of impunity in which murderers must not answer for their actions. IPI stands in solidarity with the families and colleagues of all journalists killed for their work in 2021 and demands that those responsible be held accountable for their actions” the statement concludes.

Global Witness: 2020 the worst year on record for environmental human rights defenders

September 13, 2021

Since 2012, Global Witness has been gathering data on killings of land and environmental defenders. In that time, a grim picture has come into focus – with the evidence suggesting that as the climate crisis intensifies, violence against those protecting their land and our planet also increases. It has become clear that the unaccountable exploitation and greed driving the climate crisis is also driving violence against land and environmental defenders.

In 2020, we recorded 227 lethal attacks – an average of more than four people a week – making it once again the most dangerous year on record for people defending their homes, land and livelihoods, and ecosystems vital for biodiversity and the climate. [CF: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/07/29/global-witness-2019-worst-year-ever-for-land-rights-and-environmental-defenders/]

As ever, these lethal attacks are taking place in the context of a wider range of threats against defenders including intimidation, surveillance, sexual violence, and criminalisation. Our figures are almost certainly an underestimate, with many attacks against defenders going unreported. You can find more information on our verification criteria and methodology in the full report. Downloads

In 2020, over half of attacks took place in just three countries: Colombia, Mexico and the Philippines.

For the second year in a row, Colombia saw the highest number of killings in 2020, with 65 land and environmental defenders murdered. These took place in the context of widespread attacks on human rights defenders and community leaders across the country, despite the hopes of the 2016 peace agreement. Indigenous peoples were particularly impacted, and the COVID pandemic only served to worsen the situation. Official lockdowns led to defenders being targeted in their homes, and government protection measures were cut.

In Mexico, we documented 30 lethal attacks against land and environmental defenders in 2020, a 67% increase from 2019. Logging was linked to almost a third of these attacks, and half of all the attacks in the country were directed against Indigenous communities. Impunity for crimes against defenders remains shockingly high – up to 95% of murders do not result in prosecution.

In the Philippines, the deteriorating human rights situation has received increasing international condemnation. Opposition to damaging industries is often met with violent crackdowns from the police and military. In our data, over half of the lethal attacks were directly linked to defenders’ opposition to mining, logging, and dam projects.

President Duterte’s years in office have been marked by a dramatic increase in violence against defenders. From his election in 2016 until the end of 2020, 166 land and environment defenders have been killed – a shocking increase for a country which was already a dangerous place to stand up for the environment.

Forest defenders under threat

In instances where defenders were attacked for protecting particular ecosystems, 70% were working to defend the world’s forests from deforestation and industrial development. In Brazil and Peru, nearly three quarters of recorded attacks took place in the Amazon region of each country.

Almost 30% of the attacks were reportedly linked to resource exploitation (logging, mining and large-scale agribusiness), and hydroelectric dams and other infrastructure. Of these, logging was the sector linked to the most murders, accounting for 23 cases. Mexico saw a large rise in logging- and deforestation-related killings, with 9 in 2020.

An unequal impact

Much like the impacts of the climate crisis itself, the impacts of violence against land and environmental defenders are not felt evenly across the world. The Global South is suffering the most immediate consequences of global warming on all fronts, and in 2020 all but one of the 227 recorded killings of defenders took place in the countries of the Global South.

The disproportionate number of attacks against Indigenous peoples continued, with over a third of all fatal attacks targeting Indigenous people – even though Indigenous communities make up only 5% of the world’s population. Indigenous peoples were also the target of 5 out of the 7 mass killings recorded in 2020.

As has been the case in previous years, in 2020 almost 9 in 10 of the victims of lethal attacks were men. At the same time, women who act and speak out also face gender-specific forms of violence, including sexual violence. Women often have a twin challenge: the public struggle to protect their land, and the less-visible struggle to defend their right to speak within their communities and families.

[Defenders are] at risk because they find themselves living on or near something that some corporation is demanding. That demand – the demand for the highest possible profit, the quickest possible timeline, the cheapest possible operation – seems to translate eventually into the understanding, somewhere, that the troublemaker must go. – Bill McKibben

Business is responsible

Many companies engage in an extractive economic model that overwhelmingly prioritises profit over human rights and the environment. This unaccountable corporate power is the underlying force that has not only driven the climate crisis to the brink, but which has continued to perpetuate the killing of defenders.

In too many countries, rich in natural resources and climate critical biodiversity, corporations are operating with almost complete impunity. Because the balance of power is stacked in the favour of corporations, it’s rare that anyone is arrested or brought to court for killing defenders. When they are it’s usually the trigger-men – the ones holding the guns, not those who might be otherwise implicated, directly or indirectly, in the crime.

Governments must stop the violence

Governments have been all too willing to turn a blind eye and fail in providing their core mandate of upholding and protecting human rights. They are failing to protect land and environmental defenders, in many cases directly perpetrating violence against them, and in others complicit with business.

Even worse, states around the world – from the US to Brazil, Colombia and the Philippines – used the COVID pandemic to strengthen draconian measures to control citizens and close civic space.

There is a clear link between the availability of civic space and attacks against defenders – the most open and tolerant societies see very few attacks, whereas in restricted societies, attacks are much more frequent.

The majority of killings took place in states with limited civic freedoms

Data on civic freedoms via CIVICUS Monitor Open Narrowed Obstructed Repressed Closed 0 50 100 150 killings Killings in closed civic spaces are likely to be underreported about:blank

Recommendations

As the climate crisis intensifies, so too does its impact on people, including on land and environmental defenders. Meaningful climate action requires protecting defenders, and vice versa. Without significant change this situation is only likely to get worse – as more land is grabbed, and more forests are felled in the interest of short-term profits, both the climate crisis and attacks against defenders will continue to worsen.

Governments can turn the tide on the climate crisis and protect human rights by protecting civil society, and through passing legislation to hold corporations accountable for their actions and profits. Lawmakers have relied too much on corporate self-reporting and voluntary corporate mechanisms. As a result, companies continue to cause, contribute to, and benefit from human rights abuses and environmental harms, particularly across borders.

The United Nations, through its member states, must formally recognise the human right to a safe, healthy, and sustainable environment, ensure that commitments to meet the Paris Agreement integrate human rights protections, and implement the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders and the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights.

Statesmust ensure national policies protect land and environmental defenders and scrap legislation used to criminalise them, require companies to conduct human rights and environment due diligence in their global operations, and investigate and prosecute all actors involved in violence and other threats against defenders.

The European Commission is currently preparing to publish binding due diligence legislation, including an initiative on Sustainable Corporate Governance. They must ensure this initiative requires all companies doing business in the EU, including financial institutions, to identify and address human rights and environmental harms along their value chains. This legislation must include robust liability regimes and penalties to hold companies accountable for failing to do so.

Finally, companies and investors must publish and implement effective due diligence systems to identify and prevent human rights and environmental harms throughout their supply chains and operations, adopt and implement a zero-tolerance stance on reprisals and attacks on land and environmental defenders, and provide effective remedy when adverse human rights and environmental impacts and harms occur.

People sometimes ask me what I’m going to do, whether I’m going to stay here and keep my mother’s fight alive. I’m too proud of her to let it die. I know the dangers – we all know the dangers. But I’ve decided to stay. I’m going to join the fight. – Malungelo Xhakaza, daughter of murdered South African activist Fikile Ntshangase

Defenders are our last line of defence against climate breakdown. We can take heart from the fact that, even after decades of violence, people continue to stand up for their land and for our planet. In every story of defiance against corporate theft and land grabbing, against deadly pollution and against environmental disaster, is hope that we can turn the tide on this crisis and learn to live in harmony with the natural world. Until we do, the violence will continue.

Those murdered included South African Fikile Ntshangase, 65, who was involved in a legal dispute over the extension of an opencast mine operated by Tendele Coal near Somkhele in KwaZulu-Natal province. She was shot dead in her own living room. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/fikile-ntshangase/

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-58508001

Download the full report : Last line of defence (low resolution) (2.3 MB), pdf

Download the full report : Last line of defence (high resolution) (18.1 MB), pdf

Killing of journalists in Mexico: Juan Carlos Morrugares the latest victim

August 24, 2020

The BBC reported on 23 August that a man in Mexico has been given a 50-year prison sentence for ordering the killing of a prominent journalist, Miroslava Breach, who covered drugs violence and corruption in the country and was one of 11 journalists murdered in 2017 in Mexico. [see https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/12/30/in-depth-investigative-report-on-journalist-miroslava-in-mexico/]. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/03/24/new-national-award-to-honor-slain-mexican-journalists/

Prosecutors said the lengthy prison term for Juan Carlos Moreno set a precedent in cases involving crimes against free expression. This “good news” comes amidst continuing killings of journalists also in this year. Reporter Pablo Morrugares was shot and killed in the city of Iguala in early hours of 2 August 2020, according to news reports and officials.

Pablo Morrugares was the fifth journalist to be killed in Mexico this year, in attacks which are increasingly also killing police guards assigned to the victims. More than 140 journalists have been killed over the past 20 years.

We are dismayed that Mexican journalists are being killed while supposedly under federal protection,” said Jan-Albert Hootsen, CPJ’s Mexico representative. “Authorities must do everything in their power to curb this impunity in attacks on the press, bring the culprits in Pablo Morrugares’ murder to justice, and guarantee the safety of reporters it has committed to protect.

Morrugares, the founder and editor of news website PM Noticias, was attacked shortly before 1:00 a.m. on August 2 in a restaurant in Iguala, some 120 miles south of Mexico City in the state of Guerrero Two heavily armed men entered the restaurant and fired more than 50 rounds at Morrugares, who died instantly. A police officer assigned to Morrugares as part of a federal protection program also died in the attack. The gunmen left the scene immediately after.

Before founding PM Noticias, Morrugares worked as a spokesperson for the Iguala municipal government during the administration of José Luis Abarca. The former mayor was arrested on November 4, 2014, for his alleged involvement in the mass abduction and suspected assassination of 43 students from a Guerrero rural teachers’ college on September 26 of that year. In 2016, Morrugares and his wife were targets of an attack by unidentified gunmen in Iguala, according to news reports. Following the attack, the reporter was placed in a protection program overseen by the Federal Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists, which operates under the auspices of the federal Interior Secretariat (Segob). An official of the Mechanism, who asked to remain anonymous as he is not authorized to speak on the matter, told CPJ today that his institution relocated the journalist to a safe house at an undisclosed location in 2018, where he stayed under federal protection until the end of 2019. The official said that Morrugares returned to Iguala at his own request in January of this year and was assigned two state police officers as bodyguards, one of whom died in this week’s attack.

https://cpj.org/2020/08/mexican-journalist-pablo-morrugares-killed-in-iguala/

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-53880211

Four women human rights defenders with a mission

March 25, 2020

The Bandera County Courrier of 7 March 2020 referred to the following four women human rights defenders from four non-European countries who should serve as examples for the many who are tirelessly fighting for their rights.

Mexico: Norma Librada Ledezma

Norma Librada Ledezmas 15 – year-old daughter Paloma disappeared on2  March 2002 in Chihuahua, Mexico. 27 For days, the mother searched desperately for her daughter . The police did not give her any support. At the 29. March 2002 Paloma’s body was found. Ledezma is convinced that if the police had investigated earlier and more thoroughly, their daughter could have been saved. That day, the Mexican founded the organization “Justicia para nuestras hijas”, which means: justice for our daughters. This provides legal advice and support in cases of feminicide (murder of women). The same applies to human trafficking and kidnapping. Ledezma wants justice for the victims and the families affected. The Mexican has already supported more than 200 investigations into cases of feminicide and kidnapping. The death of her daughter Paloma is not an isolated case in Mexico. According to UN Women, around ten women are killed in Mexico every day. Ledezma has been able to improve the investigation of feminicides in the country with her work. The Mexican woman has also set up a public prosecutor’s office in Chihuahua that specializes in crimes against women as victims. For her commitment, Ledezma has been nominated for the Martin Ennals Human Rights Award, an award for people and organizations who are committed to protecting human rights. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/12/05/daughters-murder-motivated-norma-ledezma-to-hunt-for-mexicos-disappeared/]

Norma Librada Ledezma
Norma Librada Ledezma Photo: Martin Ennals Foundation

India: Malti Tudu

Malti Tudu has a mission: she wants to end child marriage in her homeland, the state of Bihar, India. In the tribe the number of child marriages is particularly high. 74 percent of women get married under 18 year  For the young activist, one thing is certain: children should not be forced to marry. According to Unicef, child marriage violates the rights of girls and boys, with girls being affected five times more often. The married girls have to drop out of school. Teenage mothers also die more often than mature women from complications during pregnancy or childbirth. Tudu has been fighting child marriage in Bihar for more than two years. The activist has partnered with other women. Together they educate the residents in the surrounding villages and try to prevent as many child marriages as possible. The women also get a lot of headwind in their actions. But Tudu remains persistent – with success. She has already saved several girls from getting married. In the meantime, she has become a role model for many young women in India. In recent years, more and more women have come together to fight child marriage in India. And there is progress: In the past ten years, the proportion of child marriages in India has gone from 50 percent to 27 percent.

Kenya: Christine Ghati Alfons

Christine Ghati Alfons, a young Kenyan, is fighting for the circumcision of girls to stop. That is not easy. Many in their homeland are still convinced that circumcised women have better chances of marriage and are better integrated into the community. Officially, genital mutilation has been official in Kenya since 2011 forbidden. Nevertheless, according to the United Nations, one in five women is still between 15 and 49 years in Kenya – the mutilation happens in private clinics or at home.

Christine Ghati Alfons.
Christine Ghati Alfons. Photo: private

Had her father not stood up for her then, Alfons would have been circumcised. His involvement broke a taboo in the community – and had consequences. He was killed because he wanted to protect his eight-year-old daughter. Alfons didn’t know anything about her father’s courage for a long time. Because all of her friends were circumcised, she wanted that too. The vehemence with which her mother forbade her surprised her. When they talked about the risk of contracting HIV during circumcision at school, Alfons decided against it. Only then did she learn from the mother why her father died. “I want to make my father proud,” says Alfons today. She is committed to girls who have no one to stand up for them. The 27 year-old founded the organization “Safe Engage Foundation ”with which she goes to the communities to talk to children, parents and teachers, to convince them of the cruelty. When genital mutilation occurs, the clitoris and labia become partially or completely away. In particularly severe cases, the entire external genitalia is cut off and sewn back up except for a hole the size of a matchstick. The circumcised women torture themselves throughout their lives with physical and psychological pain. Not only in Africa, but also in Asia and the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia: Manal al Sharif

Manal al Sharif becomes famous in Saudi Arabia in 2011 with a shaky cell phone video that she films in an apparently banal activity: she is behind the wheel of a car. At the time, the autocratic monarchy was the last country in the world where women were prohibited from driving a car.

Manal al Sharif.
Manal al Sharif. Photo: Andreas Gebert / dpa

The eight-minute recording shows Sharif, an IT consultant, driving through the streets of the Saudi city of Khobar. She speaks to her friend and co-activist Wajeha al Huwaider, says things like: “We want change in our country” and: “A woman deserves the same rights as every man.” And she is optimistic. “Things will change – God willing.” A lot has happened since the video went viral. Initially, the Sharif admission jailed for eleven days. The repressive regime accuses her of “inciting public opinion against the state”. When she is released, she leaves the country because of death threats. But Sharif’s video fired the Saudi “Women2Drive” movement. And even after her emigration, the activist remains part of the movement, campaigning for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. 2018 the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – de facto the most powerful man in the country – allows women to drive. Nevertheless, he continues to take decisive action against critics of the Kingdom. According to Amnesty, some women’s rights activists, such as Loujain al Hathloul, have been detained for several years, relatives report torture. Sharif now lives in Sydney, has written a book about her experiences and is committed to Women in their country of origin…Manal al Sharif is now considered one of the most important women rights activists in Saudi Arabia.

These four women have a mission

Geneva Human Rights film festival went ahead via livestream: the winners

March 20, 2020
Geneva Human Rights film festival goes ahead via livestream amid Covid-19 outbreak
The 18th edition of the Geneva International Film Festival on Human Rights has revealed its prizewinners, despite the exceptional conditions caused by the new coronavirus pandemic. This year’s festival took place online [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/03/03/another-covid-19-casualty-the-2020-human-rights-film-festival-of-geneva-fifdh/]. Whilst the public could not attend screenings and debates, they could follow them on Livestream on the festival website, Facebook or YouTube. (All the debates and lectures can be found on the festival website.)

The Jury also watched the films from a distance and announced the winners online:

The winner of the Grand Geneva Award for the Creative Documentary Competition was the film Colectiv by Bucharest-born filmmaker, Alexander Nanau. “Colectiv is a spectacular political thriller that details of a team of sports journalists who investigate the collective nightclub fire in Romania and, in doing so, uncover high-level government corruption in the Ministry of Health itself,” said President of the Jury Pamela Yates.

The Gilda Vieira de Mello Award for Peace and Reconciliation went to the film ‘Radio Silence‘ by Juliana Fanjul. “At the centre of this documentary is the figure of Carmen Aristegui. This fighter, this Mexican journalist, inspires us so much with her courage, a courage which in my eyes resonates strongly with the whole festival team who decided, despite the very complicated coronavirus situation, not to give up and to set up a 2.0 program to try to continue to communicate the messages of fight and defence that our films carry,” said the films director, Juliana Fanjul.

The Grand Prize for Fiction and Human Rights was awarded to the film Maternal by Maura Delpero. In a country where abortion is not yet legal, Delpero’s first fiction film deals with a significant social issue by setting it in a convent- a place where pregnant and often underage girls cohabit with women who will never be mothers.

https://www.euronews.com/2020/03/17/geneva-human-rights-film-festival-goes-ahead-via-livestream-amid-covid-19-outbreak

Defending the Monarch Butterfly in Mexico costs lives

February 7, 2020

Mexican authorities are investigating the death of an employee of one of Mexico’s largest butterfly reserves. Raúl Hernández Romero was the second person connected to the reserve found dead in less than a week. The first death was Homero Gómez González — an environmental activist and well-known defender of the Rosario Monarch Butterfly Preserve in the Michoacan state. The deaths have alarmed environmental activists and human rights defenders in the country.

Amnesty International said it is alarmed. Twelve environmental defenders were already killed in Mexico in 2019. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/07/30/in-2018-three-murders-per-week-among-environmental-human-rights-defenders/]. The World’s host Marco Werman spoke with Erika Guevara Rosas, director of Amnesty International Americas, about the killings. Marco Werman: Homero Gómez González was very well-known for his protection of the monarch butterfly in Michoacán. He administrated sanctuaries to protect the monarch butterfly. But he was also a protector of the environment. He denounced, many times, illegal logging in the area and the increased presence of groups of organized crime that were trying to take over certain territories and land and threatened the environment where these monarch butterflies arrive every year in Mexico. Erika Guevara Rosas: We get a nice sense of his commitment to what he was doing with a video he posted just last month on Twitter. He’s in his butterfly sanctuary and thousands of butterflies are swirling all around him. He’s pretty happy and proudly declares in his tweet that the sanctuary in Michoacan is the biggest in the world. It’s kind of a sad video in retrospect, shot a couple of weeks before Gomez Gonzalez was killed. [https://twitter.com/miblogestublog/status/1222901129199009798]

Hernández Romero’s death, “along with the death of Homero Gómez, demands immediate investigation and full accountability,” tweeted Richard Pearshouse, head of crisis and environment at Amnesty.

‘Horrific’, adding that Raúl Hernández Romero’s family says he received threats regarding his work campaigning against illegal logging in the weeks before he disappeared. El Rosario sanctuary provides a home for millions of migrating monarch butterflies each year and draws thousands of tourists annually. But the reserve has also drawn the ire of illegal loggers in Mexico, who are banned from cutting down trees in the protected area. Before the ban, more than 1,000 acres of the woodland were lost to the industry between 2005 and 2006.

https://www.wvxu.org/post/killing-environmental-activists-has-become-norm-mexico-activist-says#stream/0

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/02/03/horrific-human-rights-advocates-call-investigation-death-second-monarch-butterfly

Mexico: in eight years 99.5% of crimes against media workers have gone unsolved – time for something better

January 4, 2020
Protesters call for justice for a Michoacán journalist who was victim of an assault last September and then harassed by police. Protesters call for justice for a Michoacán journalist who was victim of an assault last September and then harassed by police.

In that context, National Action Party Senator Marco Antonio Gama Basarte last month presented a proposal that seeks to create a new, completely autonomous special prosecutor’s office to investigate crimes against both journalists and human rights defenders. Mexico needs a strong and independent prosecutor’s office in order to “guarantee the institutional commitment we have with journalists and people who defend human rights,” he said while presenting his bill on December 12.

The senator also said that an average of 23 journalists per month requested government protection last year, adding that the funds to provide such protection were cut in the federal budgets for both 2019 and 2020. President López Obrador has come under fire for contributing to a culture of violence against journalists by launching scathing verbal attacks on reporters and news outlets that are critical of his government. The president often dismisses reports with which he doesn’t agree by declaring that they come from the prensa fifi (elitist press) and has called journalists and news outlets “puppets,” “hypocrites” and “two-faced,” among other disparaging terms.

After López Obrador criticized a story published by the Mexico City-based newspaper Reforma in April last year, the paper’s editor received death threats and was a victim of harassment.

Article 19, a press freedom organization, said at the time that the president’s “stigmatizing discourse [against the media] . . . has a direct impact in terms of the . . . risk it can generate for the work of the press because [his remarks] permeate in the discourse of the rest of society and can even generate attacks.” The organization demanded that López Obrador “abstain from generating any act that inhibits the exercise of freedom of expression,” adding “this includes maintaining a stigmatizing discourse” against the media.

Source: El Financiero (sp) 

Prosecutor for crimes against journalists has closed 4 of 803 cases