Suppression of Lawyers
Lawyers in Mexico are threatened mainly by (political) opponents of their clients. Impunity is a major problem. The Mexican government does not take sufficient action to ensure the safety of lawyers and to investigate reports of human rights violations. Many problems have their origins in the tough policy on drug smuggling and the use of the military. This had an adverse effect on the human rights situation, and hindered the work of lawyers.
Another major problem is that the army and the government tend to make a connection between lawyers and other human rights activists and (drug-related) crimes. It does so, because human rights activists often stand up against the unregulated violence used by the military and the government to combat crime.
International human rights treaties
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (20 February 1975)
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (23 March 1981, with a reservation for article 8 )
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (23 March 1981, with a reservation for article 13, 25(b))
Optional Protocol to ICCPR (15 March 2002)
Second Optional Protocol to ICCPR, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty (26 March 2007)
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (23 March 1981, general reservation)
Optional Protocol to CEDAW (15 March 2002)
Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or
Punishment (23 January 1986)
Optional Protocol to CAT (11 April 2005)
Convention on the Rights of the Child (21 September 1990)
Optional Protocol to CRC on the involvement of children in armed conflict (15 March 2002, reservation article 3, 18 year)
Optional Protocol to CRC on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography (15 March 2002)
International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and
Members of Their Families (8 March 1990, reservation article 22(4))
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (17 December 2007, reservation article 12(2))
Optional Protocol to Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (17 December 2007)
International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (18 March 2008)
Activities of L4L
L4L organised letter writing campaigns for Alba Cruz Ramos in May 2010 and February 2011, and for Blanca Mesina in July 2010.
Alba Cruz Ramos works in Oaxaca. In 2006 there were major uprisings in this province, which culminated in the bloodbaths of 25 November 2006. Alba Cruz represents human rights activists who were involved in these uprisings. The Mexican government has been urged by the Intra-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to protect Alba Cruz.
Blanca Mesina works in Tijuana, a city close to the border with the United States. The region suffers from many drugs-related problems. The military have much power; kidnappings and tortures are reported on a regular basis. Blanca Mesina’s clients include victims and their surviving relatives of tortures and disappearances.
L4L has in cooperation with Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada and the Law Society of England and Wales made a submission for the Universal Periodic Review of Mexico that will take place in November 2013. In this submission, the problems that exist in securing lawyers who are threatened because of their work are described. The organizations also express their concerns regarding the absence of investigations into complaints of threats filed by lawyers. Finally, the submission also pays attention to the ‘arraigo’, a form of pre-trial detention that is often used in the fight against drug trade, but that lacks necessary guarantees. See the complete UPR-submission here.