Pillay welcomes Law for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists in Mexico

GENEVA / MEXICO CITY (22 June, 2012) – The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, on Friday welcomed the promulgation of Mexico’s new Law for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists and called for its immediate implementation.

The legislation, which was signed into law by President Calderon, aims to protect the life, integrity, liberty and security of those at risk because of their work defending and promoting human rights, or for exercising their right to freedom of expression. The Law builds on previous efforts by the Government and civil society to create a national protection mechanism – including the presidential decree that set the foundations for it, which was signed during the High Commissioner’s visit to Mexico in July 2011.

“During my visit last year I met a number of human rights defenders, journalists, and organizations who gave me an insight into the serious risks they confront and the courage with which they carry out their work – which is vital in a democratic society. It has been encouraging to see that the Law, promoted by civil society and journalists and approved by the Congress of the Union in April, was the result of an open and participatory process,” Ms. Pillay said.

Pointing to the fact that six journalists have lost their lives in Mexico in the past two months alone, the High Commissioner called for the immediate implementation of the law through a consultative and inclusive process that should place particular emphasis on the views of human rights defenders and journalists themselves. She said her Office in Mexico will continue to closely monitor their situation and to provide technical assistance in order to promote the effective implementation of the new law.

Ms. Pillay stressed that the protection measures established by the Law must be accompanied by effective measures to combat impunity in Mexico. She praised the recently approved constitutional reform which means that crimes against journalists can now be prosecuted as federal offences.

“Impunity sends a strong signal that it is possible to get away with killing journalists and human rights defenders,” she said. “When one of them is killed, it is not just they who suffer, it is the whole population. The numerous murders, assaults and other forms of intimidation has inevitably been making it more and more difficult for people to speak up or act to protect their rights. There has to be an effective deterrent. Strong enforcement of this new law is going to be essential to face the situation.”

UN Human Rights, Country Page – Mexico: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/LACRegion/Pages/MXIndex.aspx

For more information or media requests, please contact spokesperson Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.org) or press officers Ravina Shamdasani (+ 41 22 917 9310 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org) and Xabier Celaya (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org).

UN Human Rights, follow us on social media:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/unitednationshumanrights
Twitter: http://twitter.com/UNrightswire
Google+ gplus.to/unitednationshumanrights
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/UNOHCHR

Join us to speak up for human rights in Rio+20, use #RightsRio