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UN rights expert to assess Mexico situation

[JURIST] UN Special Rapporteur Michel Frost will visit Mexico [UN report] for the first time to assess the safety of human rights defenders, according to a statement Wednesday. Frost's visit will take place from January 16 to 24, during which he will visit Mexico City, Chihuahua, Guerrero, Oaxaca and the state of Mexico. "My goal is to take the pulse of Mexican rights defenders, understand their situation, hear about their challenges, and come up with concrete ideas to bolster Government's efforts," Frost said of his planned visit. He will present his preliminary findings and recommendations during a press conference that is scheduled for the end of his mission. Frost was the Director General of Amnesty International (France) [advocacy website] as well as the former UN Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Haiti. He was also the Secretary General of the first World Summit on Human Rights Defenders in 1998.

Mexico has received criticism from multiple human rights organizations for its handling of human rights abuses, as forced disappearances and military violence have come to international attention. Earlier this year in August 22 civilians were "arbitrarily executed" [JURIST report] in Michoacan. In May the UN called upon [JURIST report] Mexico to investigate human rights violations following the death of 22 people, including at least 12 summary executions. In April three UN human rights experts pleaded [JURIST report] with Mexican authorities to support human rights groups facing extreme criticism in the national media. In 2015 Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] reported [press release] that there is evidence of recent unlawful police killings in Mexico. The report suggested that police action which left eight civilians dead in the city of Apatzingán on January 6, and 42 civilians and one police officer dead in Tanhuato on May 22 was an "excessive use of force against unarmed civilians." That same year, the Miguel Agustin Pro human rights center [official website] in Mexico announced that there is evidence that high-ranking Mexican officers gave soldiers orders to kill criminals prior to an army mass slaying of suspected cartel members in June 2014. In 2013 the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns [official website], urged Mexico's government [JURIST report] to better protect against human rights abuses, specifically with respect to the military's use of force against civilians.

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