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As the UJournalists imgnited Nations prepares to review Mexico’s human rights record in November, civil society organizations in Oaxaca publish their own evaluation, from one of the states with the highest number of violations in the country. In the following series Educa, a contributor to the report, summarizes its main findings:

Oaxaca is the state with the third highest number of attacks against journalists, preceded only by Veracruz and Mexico City. The organization Article 19 documented 15 homicides of journalists between 2000 and 2017, while the Human Rights Ombudsman of Oaxaca initiated 168 complaints of attacks against reporters from 2015 to 2017 alone, with the most frequent grievances being threats, harassment, surveillance, intimidation and physical aggression. Many of these attacks took place while journalists were on the job.

Last year, the Omsbudsman documented 144 attacks against journalists, including 37 against female journalists who were often also the victims of gender-based discrimination. It is alarming, though not surprising, that the main aggressors were public sector employees, with 45 attacks perpetrated by municipal and state employees, police, trade unions and even the Attorney General’s Office.

The impunity rate for these cases is 90%, and last year protective measures were granted to only 17 journalists and one media outlet. Moreover, media companies in Oaxaca are often owned by—and complicit with—political elites, who take advantage of journalists’ paltry wages and lack of a basic social safety net by using bribery and suppression.

In short, despite changes in the political parties governing Oaxaca and the adoption of new mechanisms for the protection of human rights, journalists continue to perform their indispensable labor in fear.

 

 Download: Under attack. Human Rights in Oaxaca 2013-2018. Citizen report (PDF, 32 pp.)

Infographic: Oaxaca Citizens' Report

BAJO ATAQUE Los derechos humanos en Oaxaca 2013 2018 Informe ciudadanoAs the United Nations prepares to review Mexico’s human rights record in November, civil society organizations in Oaxaca publish their own evaluation, from one of the states with the highest number of violations in the country. In the following series Educa, a contributor to the report, summarizes its main findings:

From 2015 - 2017, 137 complaints of torture have been registered by the ombudsman for Human Rights of the people of Oaxaca. Although in most countries this and other forms of cruel and inhumane treatment are strictly forbidden and considered serious human rights violations, in Mexico state agents put them into practice daily, normalizing their use.

Moreover, this official data fails to account for cases of torture in prisons and other carceral institutions. According to civil society organizations such as Asilegal, Oaxaca’s Indigenous population is the most vulnerable to torture, with approximately 50% of Indigenous prisoners being victims of torture.

In 2013, the United Nation’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of human rights in Mexico submitted 10 recommendations addressing the use of torture as an investigative tool by official state institutions. This along with the denunciations of civil society groups have led the Mexican State to implement a “General Law to Prevent, Investigate and Punish Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment” (LGPIST) on June 26, 2017.

One limited success of the Law are the few sentences for torture it has achieved so far on a national level, although the sentences have been minimal and none of them was in Oaxaca.

Yet despite this small achievement, the General Law against Torture leaves too much open to interpretation. The law is confusing as it legitimates the use of force during investigations, which opens a window to justifying torture. This is irreconcilable with the goal of acquiring valuable information and evidence since evidence obtained under torture is inadmissible. Moreover, the law perpetuates impunity, since the same authorities accused of torture are supposed to investigate their own crimes, both on the federal and the national level.

Plans for establishing a National Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture are in process though the state of Oaxaca is not interested in observing the agreements that will contribute to its implementation.

 

Download: Under attack. Human Rights in Oaxaca 2013-2018. Citizen report (PDF, 32 pp.)

Infographic: Oaxaca Citizens' Report

thumbnail under attack infografia generalAs the United Nations prepares to review Mexico’s human rights record in November, civil society organizations in Oaxaca publish their own evaluation, from one of the states with the highest number of violations in the country. In the following series Educa, a contributor to the report, summarizes its main findings:

In 2012, the Mexican government passed a series of contested structural reforms in sectors as diverse as telecommunications, energy and education. In Oaxaca, where opposition to the educational reform has been particularly strong, the government’s favored strategy for quelling resistance has been the criminalization of social protest. 

In May 2013 teacher protests broke out in response to the reform, which experts say is in fact a labor reform that violates the rights of educational workers. Oaxacan authorities responded by targeting protestors with arbitrary detentions and fabricated legal charges.

Human rights defenders and social movement leaders have been charged with generic accusations such as kidnapping, participation in organized crime, money laundering, criminal association and possession of firearms. This tactic is particularly divisive given an increase in organized criminal activity that has led to a climate of social polarization.

The accused are often transferred to maximum-security prisons far from their places of origin, which makes family visits, legal defense and solidarity actions difficult. Moreover, human rights groups have documented the government’s bribery of media to promote smear campaigns against arrested activists.

The Nochixtlán protests in June of 2016 provide a glaring example of these tactics. State and federal police used the pretext of clearing a highway to attack protesting teachers, students and civilians, leading to 8 deaths and 226 injuries, including 84 firearm injuries. The government denied that their agents were armed and to date no one has been held accountable.

This situation has been exacerbated by Mexico’s recently approved Homeland Security law, which grants the military even broader powers to silence resistance, especially in areas with territorial conflicts. Currently a bill to restrict the right to protest is present to the State Congress. If this bill passes, it will exacerbate social polarization and the excessive use of power.

 

Download: Under attack. Human Rights in Oaxaca 2013-2018. Citizen report (PDF, 32 pp.)

Infographic: Oaxaca Citizens' Report

InfographicEPUAs the United Nations prepares to review Mexico’s human rights record in November, civil society organizations in Oaxaca publish their own evaluation, from one of the states with the highest number of violations in the country. In the following series Educa, a contributor to the report, summarizes its main findings:

Attacks on human rights defenders have increased significantly in Oaxaca. Official data show at least 124 attacks against 76 human rights defenders between January and September 2016. Often, public authorities were the perpetrators of these aggressions.

The dire situation continued last year, when 51 cases of physical aggression and nine cases involving the illegal detention of human rights defenders were reported.

In 2017 it is believed that six Human Rights Defenders were assassinated in Oaxaca. Four of these took place under state guardianship, either in a municipal prison or while the individuals were being provided with protective measures. In 2018 another three homicides on members of the Indigenous Rights Defence Committee were committed. Attacks on human rights defenders are most commonly related to megaprojects and government reforms.

Women Defenders:

In 2013 and 2014, Oaxaca was the Mexican state with the highest number of attacks against women human rights defenders. The number of attacks increased to 320 in 2016. The majority of identified aggressors are government agents.

Impunity:

To date the State refuses to investigate or sanction aggressors against Human Rights Defenders in the judicial or non-judicial systems. Of the 46 grievances reported by human rights defenders from 2015-2017, only three have led to a judicial process and only one has resulted in an arrest warrant. Moreover, it has been noted that the cases of human rights defenders tend to be archived and ignored indefinitely.

The government´s continuing inaction demonstrates its blatant disregard for the security of human rights defenders.

 

Download: Under attack. Human Rights in Oaxaca 2013-2018. Citizen report (PDF, 32 pp.)

Infographic: Oaxaca Citizens' Report

InfographicEPUAs the United Nations prepares to review Mexico’s human rights record in November, civil society organizations in Oaxaca publish their own evaluation, from one of the states with the highest number of violations in the country. In the following series Educa, a contributor to the report, summarizes its main findings:

In Mexico in general and Oaxaca in particular, the goals set forth in the 2013-2018 National Development Plan have more often than not exacerbated the human rights situation, as they have been imposed in an authoritarian manner.

This was the case for the educational reform, whose implementation in Oaxaca led to the firing of approximately 1,755 teachers, as well as the arbitrary detention of leaders of the National Education Workers' Union. Experts note that the educational reform approved by the Congress of Oaxaca in 2016 is more accurately described as a labor reform that violates workers’ rights. Authorities did not even take into consideration the alternative educational plan proposed by the teachers’ union.

During this same period, the Oaxacan government, responding to pressures from civil society, created a Commission of Truth with the aim of investigating the events that led to serious violations of human rights between 2006 and 2007. In February 2016, the Commission presented its final report identifying perpetrators and the mechanisms of repression they used, and establishing criteria for the reparation of damages. However, no further investigations have been carried out to date.

In 2014, the Congress of Oaxaca was presented with a proposal for constitutional reforms regarding the rights of Indigenous and Afro-Mexican peoples, who suffer exclusion from legal, political and economic structures as well as dispossession from their lands. To date law-makers have failed to approve this initiative.

In short, the current government of Oaxaca has taken a step backwards on fundamental public policy issues, demonstrating a blatant disregard for human rights. It does not bode well that the State Development Plan approved in 2017 was developed without the participation of civil society, which has criticized its inconsistencies and insufficiencies.

Download: Under attack. Human Rights in Oaxaca 2013-2018. Citizen report (PDF, 32 pp.)

Infographic: Oaxaca Citizens' Report

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