Mexico: ARTICLE 19 steps up security following new incidents

For almost a year now, ARTICLE 19 has been experiencing a gradual decline in the security conditions surrounding its work. After receiving a death threat levelled at all the staff in April last year, we accepted the protection afforded by the Mexican State via the Federal Mechanism for the Protection of Journalists and Human Rights Defenders. We did so in order to continue our work and, above all, to ensure the physical safety of everyone within the organisation. Despite the security measures put in place, the situation has become worse.

ARTICLE 19 has reacted with the seriousness and diligence that the situation deserves by stepping up our office’s security arrangements and measures, and by mobilising all the necessary resources to allow us to continue doing our work.

As one of the actions taken following the recent security incidents, ARTICLE 19’s International Executive Director, Thomas Hughes, travelled to Mexico to meet with the staff and hold meetings with representatives of the embassies of the United Kingdom, the United States, Norway and Sweden, and of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to explain the situation to them. At all the meetings, the representatives expressed concern and offered support. We have also reported the incident to the Federal Mechanism for the Protection of Journalists and Human Rights Defenders.

The security incidents listed below were communicated to our International Executive Director’s during his visit:

1) Our staff being followed on several occasions

2) Suspicious people at two of the homes of our staff

3) An armed assault on our Director, Darío Ramírez

A trait common to all the incidents is that the perpetrators were wearing the same type of clothes (black) and riding a motorbike (a black Yamaha). Finally, since 20 January, the server that hosts our website has been under constant attack. On one occasion, malware actually managed to disrupt our system for 18 hours. We are now waiting for the results of the forensic analysis of what happened.

The situation that Mexico is experiencing is complex: patterns of violence, corruption and impunity are continuing to take root across the country. All of these elements bear witness to the fact that there is still a very long way to go to consolidate effective democracy beyond, that is, the strictly electoral sense of the term. The mechanisms of coercion when exercising rights that are fundamental to democracy, such as freedom of expression and of association and assembly, are taking a variety of forms that, in reality, are restricting, inhibiting and stopping them from being fully exercised.

In this context, the work that civil society does to defend human rights is under increasing threat. ARTICLE 19 is not spared from this.

We reiterate our commitment to defending the right to freedom of expression and human rights.