Article by PBI-Canada


On April 22, the Peace Brigades International-Mexico Project posted on its Facebook page, “In these days of uncertainty over COVID-19, let us share with you this excellent article on the situation of human rights defenders in Mexico.”

The article PBI-Mexico shared is titled Mexico: Human rights defenders at the forefront of the COVID19 crisis.

The article highlights the Casa del Migrante Saltillothe Tlachinollan human rights center and Codigo DH, all of which are accompanied by PBI-Mexico:

“While the defense of human rights already took place in precarious conditions in Mexico, the COVID pandemic has introduced new challenges for defenders.”

“Even though Casa del Migrante Saltillo is no longer hosting new individuals [as noted in their tweet here], it is still distributing food to migrants passing by. The shelter is also offering psychosocial support to the 30 migrants who are quarantined at the facilities. Moreover, in conjunction with UNHCR, 30 shelters across Mexico have installed new water tanks and distributed soap bars to ensure migrants can prevent the spread of the virus.”

“In the state of Guerrero, the human rights center Tlachinollan helped spread audio messages in Nahua, T’un saavi and Me’phaa, the indigenous languages of the region. Through these audios, the center ensured that the messaging of health recommendations was not overly technical and thus remained accessible to people who cannot read.”

Codigo DH – an NGO that accompanies land defenders in the state of Oaxaca – was forced to cancel capacity-building workshops, visits to communities, and advocacy events. …One of those events was the launching of a report on the lack of access to water in the indigenous community of Ayutla. The urgency of this report takes on a new level in the context of the pandemic, considering the importance of sanitation to contain the spread of the disease.”

“Besides the impact of their own activities, the pandemic has also complicated the relationship of defenders with Mexican authorities. Even though access to justice is an ongoing challenge in Mexico, defenders fear that the closing of some state and federal agencies as part of the lockdown will delay judicial proceedings and undermine other judicial and protection measures.”

“The pandemic could, therefore, contribute to the overall climate of impunity in the country, in which already 90% of reported crimes go unsolved. As documented by WOLA and PBI, it is precisely such a climate that enables the systematic attacks against defenders.”

Please see the full article that can be read in English and Spanish.

Photo: Shelters install portable hand washers so migrants and refugees can prevent the spread of the pandemic | Imagen: Casa Migrante Saltillo