The Need For Protection in Mexico

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Journalists and human rights activists working in Mexico are not only being harassed for reasons related to their job, but some are also being killed. In the past couple of years, Mexico has emerged as one of the most dangerous countries in Latin America, especially for journalists trying to expose and document the lifestyle there. In 2009, a total of thirteen reporters were killed in Mexico and many more were physically assaulted or attacked. This is the highest number of murdered journalists in Mexico ever recorded. In an effort to terminate these dangerous events, the Mexican government is turning to the Colombian model that helped end the Colombian crisis.

During the 1980’s and the 1990’s, Colombia experienced violent activities directed towards specific groups such as journalists or human rights activists that were seen as “standing in the way.” Due to the immense threat posed by drug cartels and guerillas in Colombia as well as in Mexico, the United States was summoned to lend a helping hand.

The National Human Rights Commission and the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights have now stepped in, in hops of focusing on how Colombia dealt with their situation and constructing possible solutions to protect journalists and human rights activists working in Mexico. From February 11th-12th, the Mexican Capital held a seminar dedicated to protecting and configuring a prevention mechanism to end violence directed at journalists and human right’s activists.

From January 2006 to August 2009, Mexico experienced a total of 128 cases of attacks on people affiliated with human rights. Ten of these were murders. When this occurred, the Mexican government received around 54 urgent actions and allegation letters from the U.N. Special Rapporteur pertaining to these cases. The letters were composed of lists of threats and harassment that were imposed upon citizens, along with situations of injustice such as stealing content or illegally searching offices. When the Mexican government receives a complaint such as the ones they received from the U.N. Special Rapporteur, they examine it’s details and either confirm or annul it. If the complaint is confirmed, the government will put protection measures into place such as utilizing armed escorts for individuals in danger or completely relocating and individual. This may seem like a beneficial solution, but in reality the response resulting from it is very slow. It can take up to weeks to just investigate the complaint, which can cause the perpetrator or case to simply be forgotten. Although this solution has its flaws, it is important to note that a program being put into action is much better than no program at all.

Human rights activist Josefina Reyes was killed in Chihuahua, a state situated in Mexico that borders the United States. She had become a human right’s activist after her son was taken into custody on an accusation of drug trafficking and then never seen again. It is crucial that this protection program both makes sure the measures are being monitored and and also applies the program aggressively to solve the problem fast. This should be done in hopes that nothing gets slipped under the rug or even worse, forgotten.

 

Featured picture was taken from user esparta on www.flickr.com which is permitted according to the Creative Commons license. The original picture can be found at http://www.flickr.com/photos/esparta/367002402/

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