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Rights defenders: “Do they feel safe in Mexico?” – UN expert launches official visit to assess the situation

GENEVA (11 January 2017) – United Nations Special Rapporteur Michel Forst  will carry out his first official visit to Mexico from 16 to 24 January to assess the current situation of human rights defenders, and review the Mexican authorities’ efforts aimed at their protection and empowerment.

“The question facing us is: to what extent defenders feel safe and empowered in Mexico,” said the independent expert tasked by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor and report on the promotion and protection of defenders in the world.

“The answer is unavoidably complex, yet it’s critical given the immensely transformative role played by civil society in guaranteeing Mexico’s democratic and prosperous future,” he stated.

During his nine-day mission, Mr. Forst will visit Mexico City, Chihuahua, Guerrero, Oaxaca and State of Mexico and hold meetings with state and federal authorities, as well as with rights organizations and defenders, to discuss the measures taken in order to ensure that human rights activists perform their important work in a safe and enabling environment.

“I look forward to this timely opportunity to gather first-hand information and to hold an impartial genuine dialogue with the Mexican Government, civil society and other stakeholders,” the Special Rapporteur said. “My goal is to take the pulse of Mexican rights defenders, understand their situation, hear about their challenges, and come up with concrete ideas to bolster Government’s efforts.” 

At the end of his mission, on Tuesday 24 January, Mr. Forst will present his preliminary findings and recommendations in a press conference at 13:00 at the UN Information Center, Montes Urales 440, Lomas de Chapultepec, Miguel Hidalgo, 11000, Mexico City. Access to the press conference will be strictly limited to journalists.

The final report will be presented to the Human Rights Council in March 2018.

Mr. Michel Forst (France) was appointed by the Human Rights Council as the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders in 2014. Michel Forst has extensive experience on human rights issues and particularly on the situation of human rights defenders. In particular, he was the Director General of Amnesty International (France) and Secretary General of the first World Summit on Human Rights Defenders in 1998. He is a former UN Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Haiti.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, Country Page: Mexico 

OHCHR Mexico

For additional information please contact: Jamshid Gaziyev +41 79 201 0119 (before/during the dates of the visit) / jgaziyev@ohchr.org)

For media requests and queries relating to the press conference on 24 January,  please contact, in Mexico City, Gabriela Gorjón (+52 55 5061 6374 / +52 55 5438 1729 / ggorjon@ohchr.org).

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Mr. Xabier Celaya – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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