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8 March 2021

International Women's Day: Gender-based violence continues to take the lives of women defenders and journalists in Mexico

Mexico City and San José, 08 March 2021 - According to data from civil society organisations, during 2020, at least seven women human rights defenders in Mexico, including four trans women and one journalist., were killed in reprisal for their work defending rights and freedom of expression. In addition, at least five attempted murders against women defenders were documented.

In the first year of the pandemic, at least 1,528 attacks on journalists, women and collective human rights defenders were documented in the country. Of these, 49% were directed against women human rights defenders, 38% against women journalists and the remaining 13% against collectives and organisations. The most repeated aggressions were slander; smear campaigns; intimidation and psychological harassment; threats; restrictions on freedom of expression and freedom of assembly; as well as criminalisation.

In particular, the undersigned organisations identified that at least 10 women's mobilisations faced some form of restriction. Restrictions included physical entrampment, threats and intimidation, aggressions against journalists, excessive use of force, arbitrary detentions, sexual violence, criminalisation of activists and protesters, defamation, incitement to violence and hate speech on social media against feminists and protesters.

Trans and LBQ+ women continue to face discrimination, lack of access to economic and social rights, serious health risks and violence. In particular, trans women defenders are at risk of being victims of hate crimes and gender-based violence; and yet there is no official record of hate crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity in Mexico.

On this International Women's Day, the undersigned organisations recognise that the context of crisis generated by the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in violence perpetrated against women who defend human rights and free expression, whose situation of risk threatens their integrity and their lives, and has deteriorated the conditions for the exercise of their work, without the State taking specific measures for their protection.

Considering these events, we call on the Mexican State to recognise the risks faced by women who defend human rights and free expression in the country and to take all necessary measures to guarantee enabling safe spaces and conditions for the exercise of their work.

We recall that the Inter-American Court has pointed out the special obligation of the State to protect human rights defenders which, among other things, includes the promotion of a culture of legitimisation and protection of the work of human rights defenders; the creation of a risk analysis model that allows for an adequate determination of the risk and protection needs of each defender or group; the design of protection plans that respond to the particular risk of each defender and the characteristics of their work; and the provision of sufficient human and financial resources to respond to the real protection needs of human rights defenders and their work; and the provision of sufficient human and financial resources to respond to the real protection needs of human rights defenders. In the case of women defenders, in addition to these obligations, states have an additional obligation to act with due diligence.

We also call on the Ministry of Security and Citizen Protection, the 32 state prosecutors' offices, and the security forces at state and municipal levels to prevent acts of violence against women demonstrators and to guarantee actions in line with international standards during their interventions in the demonstrations that take place today. We also call on the justice system to react to acts of violence that may occur against the demonstrators, both from private actors and public officials; and we also call for the prevention and investigation of attacks against women defenders and journalists on social networks and calls for violence against the feminist mobilisation.

In the same vein, we urge the Mexican State and the authorities of the federal states to comply with their international obligations in relation to the adoption of independent monitoring mechanisms of the actions of security forces in the context of social protest, as a guarantee of non-repetition of the multiple violations reported during 2020 against free demonstration in different parts of the Republic.

This International Women's Day, we reaffirm our commitment to the women who dedicate their lives to defending human rights and exercising their right to freedom of expression in Mexico and the Latin American region. We will continue to walk with them until defending rights, expressing themselves and informing others does not cost them their lives.

Centre for Justice and International Law (CEJIL)
CSO Space for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists
Casa del Migrante Saltillo
Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambiental (CEMDA)
Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Montaña Tlachinollan
Centro de Derechos Humanos Zeferino Ladrillero (CDHZL)
Centro Nacional de Comunicación Social (Cencos)
Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos (CMDPDDH)
Consorcio Para el Diálogo Parlamentario y Equidad, Oaxaca A.C
Instituto de Derecho Ambiental A.C. (IDEA)
JASS Asociadas por lo Justo
Red Nacional de Organismos Civiles de Derechos Humanos Todos los Derechos para Todas y Todos (RedTDT)
SMR Scalabrinianas, Misión con Migrantes y Refugiados;
Servicios y Asesoría para la Paz (Serapaz)
The CSO Space is accompanied by Peace Brigades International (PBI)
Front Line Defenders
Mesoamerican Initiative of Women Human Rights Defenders
National Network of Women Human Rights Defenders in Mexico