Wednesday 19th March WILPF partnered with Just Associates (JASS) and other organisations to hold a side event to the Human Rights Council on the human rights situation of Mexico in light of the adoption of the report of Universal Periodic Review.
A Climate of Violence
The event painted a dreary and disheartening picture of Mexico.
The war on organised crime and drugs that the Mexican government has undertaken has led to a militarisation of public security, meaning that the military is very present in all spheres of society, carrying out tasks that pertain to the police. As a consequence, there has been an increase of human rights violations not only against human rights defenders, but also against civilians.
Disappearances Don’t Discriminate
The issue of disappearances took central stage at the panel, as it is considered to be a national tragedy that touches everyone, regardless of sex, social class, employment or age. People can be disappeared for reasons such as speaking out against the police even in household situations.
The justice system has little to no capacity to investigate disappearances and 98.99% of crimes in general go unsolved. There is no mechanism to find people, investigations stand still and impunity is the norm. Also, when remains are found, they often go unidentified, or mistaken with other remains. This has earned Mexico the title of “clandestine cemetery”.
Further, in order to obtain compensation, relatives need to declare the death of the missing person, which they do not want to do if they believe they are still alive. This creates a difficult situation for them since a great part of the population struggles financially, especially if they have to undertake costly investigations to find their relatives. Disappeared relatives damage the socioeconomic conditions of a family just as much as a death would do, so shouldn’t these families have the right to compensation as well?
This is especially relevant in light of the socio-economic context: half of Mexico’s population lives in poverty.
The highest number of UPR recommendations made by member states to the Mexican government regarded women. Not only are women human rights defenders and journalists in danger, but every woman is at risk of being abused, forcefully disappeared or, in the worst case, killed.
Between 2000 and 2009, 12.636 women and girls have been killed in Mexico, meaning that every day 6 women are murdered.
The region of Chihuahua provides the worst case of feminicide in the country, with a woman being murdered every 20 hours. The case of Juarez is the most well known, but it has never been investigated properly. Families of victims have, as the families of the disappeared, received no compensation.
Women human rights defenders and journalists are especially vulnerable to violence. But impunity continues to reign and women have no access to justice because of a corrupt and inefficient justice system who simply does not see them.
Impact of Weapons
Violence, attacks, disappearances and other violations are all fueled by the widespread availability of small arms and light weapons in the country. The impact of arms on the lives of citizens has not been recognised by the government, but they lead to an increase of non-armed groups who commit violence against women and recruit children. The room was chilled when one of our panelists described how these children are raised in such a violent culture where weapons are like toys.
A Failed State?
The panel ended by insisting on the urgency of targeting impunity by boosting investigations and improving the efficiency of the judicial system. Gender language and awareness needs to be integrated in national policies and feminicide cannot remain a marginal issue that the government suppresses.
Put together poor socio-economic conditions, easy access to arms, a government who turns a blind eye and a military who holds too much power, and you will have a culture of violence, where women are toys, where everything goes, when you can get away with heinous crimes simply because you can.
You will have a failed state.
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