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30 October 2006

The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, Dr. Rodolfo Stavenhagen, today expressed his concern about the serious human rights violations reported to have taken place on 27 October 2006 in the city of Oaxaca and neighbouring towns. According to information received, the acts were perpetrated by a paramilitary group, with violent clashes leaving at least 4 people dead and several others wounded.

The events of 27 October occurred within the framework of a protracted social and political conflict pitting various sectors of Oaxaca society with the authorities of the state. The Special Rapporteur continues to receive information concerning violations of human rights in the course of the conflict, including the killing and wounding by gunfire of innocent victims, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, illegal searches and breaches of due process.

In the report on his mission to Mexico in 2003, the Special Rapporteur recommended:
“The federal and State judiciary and the national system of ombudsmen should ensure that legislation and justice are not used in the interests of caciques and local authorities to treat legitimate protest or social dissent as a crime or penalize it.” And also that, “The Government should take urgent steps to disband, disarm and punish armed paramilitary or civilian groups that are operating in indigenous regions.”

The Special Rapporteur is extremely concerned with the use of force to counter protests arising from deeply entrenched social issues and recommends the Federal and State authorities to fully comply, at all times, with Mexico’s international human rights commitments.

The Special Rapporteur calls on the Mexican authorities to investigate the reported acts of violence, and to prosecute those responsible of these acts according to international standards. He also calls on both the Federal and state Governments to continue to seek a negotiated solution to the conflict, and to refrain from any further action that could block negotiations. He appeals to the Popular Assembly of Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO) and other social organizations to continue promoting dialogue between all the parties involved, in the search for a peaceful and negotiated solution to their various demands, and to avoid violent confrontations