The United Nations human rights chief has voiced concern over escalating violence in some parts of Mexico, saying organized crime and brutality could undermine the State and threaten the people”s basic rights.
“Let us not forget that ensuring citizen security means upholding the right of the whole population to live free of threat to their basic rights — such as life, physical integrity and liberty, and justice — and for the State to respond and provide redress when those rights are violated,” Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told a news conference in Mexico City at the end of her six-day mission to Mexico yesterday.
She acknowledged the that the magnitude of the human rights challenges and violence facing Mexico were enormous, saying some of them had their root causes across Mexico”s borders. “I call on the United States of America, reported to be the main consumer of drugs and supplier of guns in and out of Mexico, to do more to help this country be safe,” said Ms. Pillay.
“I understand that in extraordinary circumstances difficult decisions have to be taken — like the use of the military in public order functions — while a State builds the capacity to protect its citizens according to the rule of law.
“But such exceptional measures must remain true to their nature — extraordinary, and limited in time. And they must be carried out under civilian control and within the boundaries set by human rights standards and principles,” she added.
She decried the use of torture and urged the Government to ensure full investigation and sanction of such practices, saying they should always be dealt with by civilian courts, irrespective of who the perpetrators were.
Ms. Pillay stressed that the rights of migrants must be protected and called upon the Mexican Government to make all efforts to protect the life and integrity of migrants, particularly women and children, and to prevent human trafficking.
She expressed her deep sympathy to the female victims of violence and insecurity in Ciudad Juárez and other parts of the country, noting that women”s rights defenders were doing an extraordinary job in promoting and protecting human rights throughout Mexico, often at the expense of their own personal security.
Ms. Pillay also called for the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples, saying her office considered the issue a priority and was guided by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples — of which Mexico is a signatory — as a framework for action to further the advancement and protection of indigenous peoples” rights.
She also voiced concern over assaults on journalists, which she said constituted an attack on the freedom of expression and on people”s rights to information.
“I am alarmed by the high impunity that prevails for attacks upon journalists, and I urge that this impunity stops. And the mechanism to protect journalists needs to be implemented without delay and with their full participation, both at the national and national levels,” said Ms. Pillay.
She expressed similar concern over the situation of human rights defenders, many of whom she said had been harassed, threatened, wrongfully imprisoned and even murdered.
“I am pleased to have witnessed this week the signature by the President of a document setting the basis for a national protection mechanism for human rights defenders. I trust that this mechanism will strengthen the existing efforts of authorities to generate safe and free conditions for them to work,” she added.
The High Commissioner took note of a number of important advances that have been made in Mexico, citing the constitutional reform on human rights that had paved the way for greater promotion and protection of internationally recognized human rights in the country.
“But it now needs to be implemented and further developed, at national, sta
te and municipal levels,” she said.