GENEVA (6 November 2018) – UN experts have strongly condemned the killing of Julián Carrillo, an indigenous rights defender from the state of Chihuahua, who had worked tirelessly for over two decades to defend his community against the exploitation of Rarámuri ancestral lands.
On 23 October 23 2018, Julián Carrillo told a friend by phone that he believed he was being watched and said he would go into the forest in an attempt to hide. On the evening of 25 October, his body was found. He had multiple bullet wounds.
"We urge the Mexican authorities to identify the perpetrators of this reprehensible crime and to bring them to justice in accordance with the law," the experts said.
The experts also urged the Government to address the underlying causes of such violence. "The killing of Julián Carrillo highlights the serious situation in the Sierra Tarahumara where the lack of recognition of indigenous land rights is a root cause of the recurring violence against and displacements of indigenous communities."
The Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples and the Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression have all visited the state of Chihuahua. In the course of the past year they have expressed grave concern over the lack of adequate protection measures for human rights defenders and indigenous communities at risk.
"The Mexican authorities must urgently act to provide culturally appropriate protection for indigenous rights defenders so they can carry out their work in an enabling environment," the experts said.
Julián Carrillo’s murder is one of a spate of killings of human rights defenders in the country. According to official OHCHR figures, 21 human rights defenders have been killed so far this year, nine of them from indigenous communities. Four members of Julián Carrillo’s family - his son, son-in-law and two nephews - have been killed since February 2016.
"We urgently appeal to the Mexican Government to put an end to these appalling acts of violence against human rights defenders, including indigenous rights defenders," the experts said.
*The UN expert: Mr. Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Ms. Victoria Tauli Corpuz, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples; Ms. Agnès Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; and Ms. Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons.
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