IACHR ALARMED OVER THREATS TO INDIGENOUS LEADERS IN GUERRERO, MEXICO
Washington, D.C., March 18, 2010 - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses its deep concern over new threats and harassment directed against leaders and members of the Organization of the Me'phaa Indigenous People (OPIM) in the state of Guerrero, Mexico.
According to the information the Commission has received, on March 6, 2010, the headquarters of the OPIM was kept under surveillance all day, beginning around 4 a.m., and that night a piece of paper arrived that contained a death threat and referred to various of the organization's activities in the defense of human rights. Several of the people threatened have been proposed by the IACHR as witnesses in two cases of Mexico that are before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Both cases involve the rape and torture of Me'phaa indigenous women by agents of the Mexican Army in the state of Guerrero.
The threats against the men and women who belong to the OPIM have been taking place for years. The IACHR granted precautionary measures on January 14, 2005, to protect the lives of OPIM members. Given that the precautionary measures were not implemented, the Commission asked the Inter-American Court for provisional measures, which were granted in April 2009. However, the information received indicates that these measures have not been implemented effectively. On March 16, the Commission informed the Court about the situation of risk in which these persons find themselves.
The Commission also reminds the State of Mexico that it has the obligation to protect human rights defenders.
The IACHR reiterates that acts of violence and other attacks against human rights defenders not only affect the guarantees that belong to all human beings; they also undermine the fundamental role these defenders play in society and contribute to the vulnerability of all those whose rights they champion. The Commission also recalls that the work of human rights defenders is critical for the construction of a solid and lasting democratic society, and that they play a leading role in the process to fully implement the rule of law and to strengthen democracy.
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 Commission is composed of seven independent members who act in a personal capacity, without representing a particular country, and who are elected by the OAS General Assembly.
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