(September 30, 2013 | Washington, DC) In response to a surge in attacks against human rights defenders and journalists in the Mexican State of Oaxaca, the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights (RFK Center) sent a letter to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto appealing for immediate action to protect those who defend human rights in their communities. The security situation has grown especially dire for rural and indigenous defensores comunitarios (community defenders) over the past few months, culminating in the murder of two human rights defenders and one journalist in Oaxaca State in July. Without prompt action from the Mexican federal- and state-level governments to protect these defenders and implement adequate measures to safeguard them from these aggressions, the RFK Center fears that this frightening situation will not change.
Community and indigenous defenders in Oaxaca are acutely at risk, as they serve as the voice of the community and demand their right to free, informed, and prior consultation regarding the imposition of megaprojects in their territory, such as wind farm and extractive industry initiatives.
The RFK Center specifically calls on the Government of Mexico to protect human rights defenders through immediate implementation of the Law for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists, and through the protective measures given to several human rights defenders in the region by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; to investigate, prosecute, and punish those responsible for these violations; and finally, to promote measures to prevent any future attacks from occurring, including convening discussions with local defenders to solve the root cause of the conflict in Oaxaca.