IACHR Condemns Threats to Father Alejandro Solalinde in Mexico
May 22, 2012
Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the recent death threats that forced the temporary departure of Father Alejandro Solalinde Guerra, a defender of the human rights of migrants in Mexico, who was the beneficiary of precautionary measures granted by the IACHR on April 23, 2010 and failed to receive effective protection from the State.
According to available information, Father Solalinde, coordinator of Social Pastoral Work for Human Mobility in Tehuantepec, Oaxaca, and founder of the Hermanos en el Camino Migrant Shelter in Ixtepec, Oaxaca, received six death threats in the past two months because of his work in defense of the human rights of migrants in Mexico. On May 16, 2012, Father Solalinde left Mexico in order to protect his life and safety, while efforts are made to clarify conditions for his security.
In 2010, the IACHR granted precautionary measures to protect the life and safety of Father Alejandro Solalinde, David Álvarez, Areli Palomo, Mario Calderón, Norma Araceli Doblado, and others working or located in the Hermanos en el Camino Migrant Shelter, after they had been subjected to acts of intimidation, and after Father Solalinde, in February 2010, had been detained and held at gunpoint by the Federal Police when he went to the Office of the Public Prosecutor of Oaxaca state in the context of investigations under way for the alleged murder of three migrants.
The Inter-American Commission considers it a matter of extreme gravity that the Mexican State has not taken effective protection measures to prevent Father Solalinde from being forced to leave the country, especially in view of the precautionary measures it granted, which are still in effect, and the threats and harassment directed against him and the staff of the Hermanos en el Camino Migrant Shelter. The IACHR recalls that it is the State’s obligation to take the initiative to investigate those threats and to punish those responsible for masterminding them and carrying them out. In this connection, the IACHR urges the State to take immediately all necessary measures to guarantee the right to life, the personal integrity, and the safety of the beneficiaries of these precautionary measures, as well as of migrants transiting through Mexico who may be at risk. Likewise, the IACHR urges the State of Mexico to adopt urgently all effective protection measures to enable Father Alejandro Solalinde to return to the country and continue carrying out his work in defense of the human rights of migrants in safety.
Commission member Felipe González, IACHR Rapporteur on the Rights of Migrants, said that in July and August, 2011, “during the visit to Mexico of the Rapporteurship on the Rights of Migrants, the IACHR had the opportunity to see the main work carried out by Father Solalinde and the staff of the Hermanos en el Camino Migrant Shelter in defending the human rights of thousands of migrants. At that time, they were already beneficiaries of the Commission’s precautionary measures and, even so, Father Solalinde was still the target of threats and acts of harassment, which, we have been informed, have intensified to the extent that they forced his departure from the country. This situation has a direct impact on the protection of the rights of the migrants who go to this shelter, as well as a frightening impact on other defenders of the human rights of migrants in Mexico. It is of paramount importance that Mexico adopt and implement all necessary measures to guarantee conditions of safety for migrants who are at risk as well as for human rights defenders to allow them to continue their work and, in particular, to allow Father Solalinde to return and continue his work.”
In the Preliminary Observations made by the IACHR Rapporteurship on the Rights of Migrants after the 2011 visit to Mexico, the Rapporteurship underscored “the important work being conducted by civil society and individuals in providing shelter, food, potable water, and other services to migrants in transit through Mexican territory. The shelters provide safety, food, and information to thousands of people transiting through Mexico every year. These individuals and organizations perform a highly valuable social function, one in which the State has been absent for many years.” Similarly, the Rapporteurship considered “of great importance the work carried out by defenders of the human rights of migrants, who continue their work despite the risks it entails,” and in this regard recommended to the State of Mexico that it “guarantee safe conditions for the defenders of the human rights of migrants.”
As reiterated by the Commission in its Second Report on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in the Americas, acts of violence and other attacks perpetrated against human rights defenders not only affect the guarantees of every human being, but undermine the fundamental role that human rights defenders play in society and leave all those for whom they fight defenseless. The Commission also recalls that the work of defenders is essential for building a sound and lasting democratic society and that defenders have an active role to play in the process of full achievement of the rule of law and strengthening of democracy. The Inter-American Commission reminds the State of its obligation to provide due protection to human rights defenders in the country.
A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.