Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Sinaloa state law in the making to defend journalists and human rights defenders

Translated by El Profe for Borderland Beat from RioDoce


Violence against human rights defenders and journalists is not a recent issue in Mexico. It did not begin with the murder of Javier Valdez, but many years ago, with the case of the death of Sinaloan lawyer Norma Corona Sapiens.

This statement was made by Balbina Flores Martínez, representative of the organization, Reporters Without Borders, in the forum organized by the State Congress, to formulate a bill to protect human rights defenders and journalists from the State of Sinaloa.
During the forum, which included discussion in three panels, the participants expressed their concern about the situation of human rights defenders and journalists, and therefore stated that local governments should assume their responsibility immediately concerning mechanisms of protection, prevention of aggression, the establishment of effective measures in cases of emergency, and emphasized that the best prevention measure is the cessation of impunity.

"The violence did not start yesterday, it has been entrenched in this country for many years and has impacted different regions," said the representative of Reporters Without Borders in the forum that brought together journalists from Sinaloa with representatives of national, international, and local organizations.
She cited the numbers of the organization Article 19 that has documented the aggression: In the six years of Enrique Peña Nieto there were 1,983 registered  attacks on journalists, 48 killed; with Felipe Calderón, 49; and Carlos Salinas de Gortari, 50.

Balbina Flores

She regretted that the violence has become more acute and rampant with human rights defenders and journalists, not only in homicides or disappearances, but also in threats, physical attacks, harassment, demands for defamation and moral damage, advertising restrictions and surveillance and digital attacks.
Among the impacts of the aggressions were forced displacement, so the defender called on the federal and local governments to recognize their responsibility in the situation and generate public policies to address the problem.
She denounced that a great part of the aggressions have been on the part of public servants in different levels and police corporations, and leaders of social organizations.
Ricardo Neves, representative of the Office in Mexico of the High Commissioner of the United Nations for the Protection of Human Rights, stressed that after the visits made by reporters of freedom of expression to various entities, including Sinaloa, the need to adopt effective measures between federal and local government levels.
He indicated that Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for the exercise of journalism and pointed out that in the first 52 days of 2019, there have been at least seven murders of human rights defenders and three journalists, which amounts to a trend of more than one person per week. "This is extremely alarming," he warned.
The federal entities, he recommended, should have units that implement measures to apply protection in favor of human rights defenders and journalists, including sanction measures for public officials who disregard their obligations in this area.
He stressed that currently in entities there are difficulties for the implementation of protection measures between the various levels of government and its various units.

In his proposal, he said, the approach to the enforcement of justice, prevention, victim action and reaction in emergency situations should be addressed.

Ricardo Neves

During her participation, Garance Tardie Ziolwoski, representative of Amnesty International Mexico, stressed the importance of turning to the different states to review what preventive measures are being applied to human rights defenders and journalists at the national level in the face of the aggressions that are being suffered.
She pointed out that the state must promote a comprehensive public policy of protection that must always be accompanied by the opinion of journalists and human rights defenders.
In his speech, Jorge Ruiz del Angel, of the Unit for the Defense of Human Rights of the Ministry of the Interior, stressed that the states have a legal duty to protect the life, freedom and integrity of journalists and defenders, and stressed the necessary elimination of dissociation that exists between local governments and municipal authorities.
The journalist Elsa Leonor Ángeles Verá, member of the Consultative Council of the Mechanism at federal level for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists, warned that the initiative that is formulated in Sinaloa should not contemplate the government secretary at the head of the actions of immediate reaction in case of aggressions to this sector of the population.
The State Congress announced that it will hold a subsequent forum where the text of the bill that will be drafted will be presented, taking into account the opinions and comments made by the participants in this first meeting.