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12 November 2017

Human rights defender Graciela Pérez Rodriguez to receive 2017 Human Rights Tulip award

Front Line Defenders welcomes the international recognition granted to woman human rights defender Graciela Pérez Rodríguez, who is dedicating her life to search for disappeared persons in Mexico, seeking to generate citizens’ mechanisms which provide access to truth and identity, and consequently to memory and justice in a peaceful way. The Human Rights Tulip is an annual prize awarded by the Dutch government to human rights defenders who take an innovative approach to promoting human rights.

Press release by Milynali-RedCFC, A.C.

The Dutch Government recognizes human rights defender Graciela Pérez Rodríguez for her work in the search for missing persons in Mexico.

We demand the safe return of the more than 30,499 missing persons in Mexico.

On 9 November 2017, the government of the Netherlands announced that the 2017 Human Rights Tulip will been awarded to Mexican human rights defender Graciela Pérez Rodriguez. This recognition will help promote the search of missing persons in the field and make the problem visible in Mexico. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, Halbe Zijlstra, announced the award granted to Graciela, who makes visible the theme of disappeared persons: "Human rights defenders like Graciela are indispensable in the fight for a better world."

On 14 August 2012, Graciela's daughter, Milynali, her nephews José Arturo, Alexis and Aldo de Jesús and her brother Ignacio were disappeared by members of organized crime in the area of ​​the municipality of El Mante. The four men and the girl were returning by road to Tamuín, San Luis Potosí, after a trip to the United States of America.

As of 2013, Graciela Pérez intensified her struggle against the disappearances, which amount to around 30,499 in Mexico; in Tamaulipas almost 6,000 people have disappeared, according to the federal government. Graciela Pérez, in partnership with other mothers, fathers, daughters and sons, have searched approximately 328 ejidos and towns for traces of their relatives. In the same way, she has supported the efforts of different organizations in the country to find the whereabouts of more women and men.

Graciela is a founding member of the association Milynali-RedCFC, A.C., which organizes searches and shares experiences with Tamaulipas families that look for their missing loved ones. She also participates in the Civic Forensic Science group, where she learned scientific methods of searching, recording data and taking DNA samples.

Graciela has been searching for the disappeared for half a decade in one of the most violent and insecure states in the country. Despite the risk she faces due to corruption, acquiescence and complicity between authorities and criminals, the Mexican State has not given protection measures to the human rights defender.

This award will allow Graciela Pérez to be trained in specific aspects of her work as an advocate. Likewise, the organisation will receive funds to improve the search conditions for missing persons in Tamaulipas.

The Mexican defender will receive the Human Rights Tulip on 8 December in The Hague, where she will talk about her journey in the search for the disappeared and the omissions of governments in the right to truth, security and justice.

We won't stop expressing our concern about the risk situation that defenders and families are facing in the search of their disappeared. We regret that, 7 months after the murder of Miriam Rodríguez in San Fernando, Tamaulipas, Graciela, who was sought to enter the national security mechanism for journalists and human rights defenders, is yet to undergo a risk analysis and no precautionary measure that guarantees her work, life and safety has been undertaken.

We thank the Government of the Netherlands for their recognition of the relentless search done by relatives of victims of disappearance in Mexico.

Graciela Perez Rodriguez - Testimony at the 2017 Dublin Platform