One of the victims is Alejandra Serrano Pavón, member of the Mexican Center for Environmental Law (Cemda). (Taken from the website hazquesevean.org)

Attacks against activists and human rights advocates, on the rise: NGO

12/10/2015
11:17
Elena Michel
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In the last five years 868 human rights advocates have been attacked in Mexico.

On February 11, 2013 Alejandra Serrano Pavón detected a strong smell of gas in her house, the same day Mexico's Senate held a forum to analyze the economic and environmental impact of Dragon Mart, a commercial complex that Chinese investors plan to build in a nature reserve in Cancún, Quintana Roo.

The gas leak caused by strangers was not the first attack received by Alejandra. Earlier the member of the Mexican Center for Environmental Law (Cemda) received threatening messages on social networks, got the tires of her car flattened and was insulted publicly by representatives of Dragon Mart.

The controversial project includes 3,040 stores, 722 houses and a desalination plant in an area of ​​561 hectares. The problem is that the complex would be built within 3.5 kilometers (2.1 miles) from the coast and the Natural Protected Area of Puerto Morelos Reef.

According to statistics from the Cerezo Committee, that collects information from several NGOS, 868 human rights advocates have been attacked in the last five years. The NGO Urgent Action for Human Rights Defenders (Accudeh for its Spanish acronym) documented 334 murders of activists between January 2011 and May 2014 in eight states: Chihuahua, Coahuila, Michoacán, State of Mexico, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Chiapas and Mexico City.

The attacks include telephone threats, physical assaults, raids on offices, criminal charges or disappearances.

Since 2012, when the Mechanism to Protect Human Rights Advocates and Journalists was launched, until July 2015 the Ministry of the Interior has offered protection to 124 people. Half of the requests came from Mexico City, Veracruz, Chihuahua, State of Mexico and Oaxaca.

Andrea Cerami, lawyer of Cemda, says that most of the attacks go unpunished and that there are no coordinated efforts with local human rights organizations because they are not autonomous from the local executive power.

Moreover, Mexico's National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) has not issued a general recommendation about this climate of hostility, even though it documented 27 murders and eight cases of enforced disappearance against advocates between January 2005 and May 2011.

 

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