Press Release

IACHR Condemns Murder of Human Rights Defender in Mexico

August 1, 2013

Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the murder of Herón Sixto López, who worked to defend the human rights of the Mixtec and Triqui indigenous peoples of Mexico and was a member of the “Centro de Orientación y Asesoría a los Pueblos Indígenas” (COAPI), an indigenous rights organization in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Information the Commission has received indicates that on July 15, 2013, relatives of Herón Sixto López reported publicly that he had been taken by force by unknown persons from the premises of COAPI, and that his whereabouts remained unknown. According to the information available, on July 20, 2013, the body of Herón Sixto López was found with six bullet wounds, in a place called “Cahuaya,” part of San Sebastián Tecomaxtlahuaca, Oaxaca.

The IACHR calls to mind that it is the State’s obligation to proactively investigate acts of this nature and punish those responsible. The IACHR urges the State of Mexico to investigate and prosecute this crime and punish the perpetrators and masterminds. The Commission also calls on the Mexican State to immediately and urgently adopt all necessary measures to guarantee the right to life, integrity, and safety of those who defend the rights of indigenous peoples in the country.

As the Commission has stated before, acts of violence and other attacks perpetrated against human rights defenders not only affect the guarantees that belong to every human being, but undermine the fundamental role human rights defenders play in society and leave unprotected all those whose rights they champion. The Commission also calls to mind that the work of human rights defenders is essential to the construction of a solid, long-lasting democratic society, and that these defenders play a leading role in the process of pursuing the full attainment of the rule of law and the strengthening of democracy.

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 area. 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.

No. 56/13