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02.05.2012

PBI Mexico: Historical approval of the Defenders and Journalists Protection Law in the Mexican Congress

CSO Group representatives hold press conference after approval © PBI MexicoCSO Group representatives hold press conference after approval © PBI Mexico

Mexico City.- In the last ordinary session of the Sixteenth Legislature of the Congress, the Law for a Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders and Journalists was finally passed unanimously in the Mexican Chamber of Deputies. Peace Brigades International (PBI), which has accompanied the process, celebrates this historic step. The new law, not yet published for its ratification and implementation, establishes a clear legal framework for cooperation between federal and state authorities to implement effective measures to protect people at risk because of their work in promoting human rights, freedom of expression and journalism.

The draft law of the Committee on Human Rights of the Chamber of Deputies obtained 344 votes in favor and unanimous support from its members on April 30th 2012. With no votes against and no abstentions, it was endorsed by representatives of all political parties in the House of Representatives. During the discussion, some deputies mentioned the recent murder of Regina Martinez, a correspondent for the Mexican magazine Proceso in the state of Veracruz, as a sign of the vulnerability that journalists face. At the end of voting, the deputies observed a minute's silence in her memory.

On the 24th April 2012, the Senate had also unanimously approved the bill provided by the Joint Committee on Government and on Legislative Studies and held a silence for the victims too. The bill was remitted the same day to the Chamber of Deputies.

This federal law reflected articles, procedures and objectives similar to those established by the Governmental Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders presented by the Interior Ministry on 28 March. Thereafter the Executive remains in dialogue with civil society organizations to implement a flexible and effective mechanism which will comply with the dictates of the new law.

PBI, which has accompanied the Civil Society Organizations Group both in the legislative process and during the preparation of a proposal for a Governmental Protection Mechanism, considers that both the decision made in Congress and the recognition of human rights defenders and journalists by both houses to be a breakthrough. PBI particularly notes the importance of the initiative´s development which was in consensus among civil society organizations and members of the Mexican Senate.

This is the first rule with hierarchy of law that will regulate the protection of human rights defenders and those who promote freedom of expression, including the practice of journalism. When these people claim to be victims of aggressions, the authorities have obligations and responsibilities such as carrying out risk analysis and deciding within a specified period on the possible provision of prevention, protection or emergency protection measures.

 

More information

México muestra avances hacia la protección a personas defensoras de DDHH y periodistas, (Press release), Centro Nacional de Comunicación Social (Cencos), Mexico City, 2 May 2012.

 

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