UN Special Rapporteur Michel Forst [official profile] delivered a preliminary report [statement] on Tuesday recommending to authorities in Mexico on how to improve the protection of human rights defenders. According to Forst, the growing impunity in Mexico [press release] “has become both the cause and the effect of the overall insecurity of human rights defenders.” Forst noted elevated levels of insecurity and violence in the form of organized crime, corruption and state repression. In many cases, the expert reported, defenders are arbitrarily arrested and detained to silence them. Their families also face persecution from authorities as a means of retaliation for reporting crimes. Nearly 98 percent of crimes committed in Mexico remain unresolved, which, according to the Special Rapporteur, contributes to “the sense of widespread impunity.”
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. 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.