IACHR

Press Release

IACHR Condemns Killing of Alberto Almeida in Mexico and Calls for Clarification of the Facts

March 6, 2015

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María Isabel Rivero
IACHR Press and Communication Director
Tel: +1 (202) 370-9001
mrivero@oas.org

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the killing of Alberto Almeida, a human rights defender and environmental advocate in Chihuahua, Mexico. The IACHR urges the State of Mexico to conduct an investigation on its own initiative, so as to shed light on the circumstances of the killing and whether it might be related to the victim’s activities as a human rights defender.

According to publicly available information, Alberto Almeida was killed on February 24, 2015, by unidentified individuals who shot him several times, in the parking lot at a shopping center. The human rights defender was with his daughter and his wife.

Alberto Almeida Fernández, a former mayor of Villa Ahumada and a member of the local human rights group El Barzón, worked to prevent the degradation of the Chihuahuan Desert due to the development of its natural resources. According to the information received, the activist had demanded an end to the overexploitation of the Flores Magón Ahumada Aquifer, and had filed criminal complaints with the Attorney General’s Office, claiming that the wells drilled in Rancho Santa Rita were illegal. This led to the closing of some of the wells. In addition, Alberto Almeida Fernández participated in actions to demand justice for the October 2012 killings of fellow environmental advocates Ismael Solorio and Manuelita Solís. In November 2012, the Commission granted precautionary measures to protect the life and physical integrity of the sons of the environmental leaders who were killed, and in February 2013 it broadened the precautionary measure to protect the life and physical integrity of a number of members of the Barzón organization.

The Commission calls on the State to continue its investigations, ensuring that these are conducted with due diligence and are exhaustive and impartial, and pursuing different lines of investigation that consider whether Almeida’s killing could be linked to his work as a human rights defender.

The Commission reiterates that acts of violence and other attacks perpetrated against human rights defenders not only affect the guarantees that belong to every human being; they also undermine the essential role human rights defenders play in society and leave all those for whom they fight defenseless. In this regard, the work of human rights defenders is critical for building a solid and lasting democratic society, and defenders play a leading role in the process of pursuing the full attainment of the rule of law. Therefore, the IACHR urges the State of Mexico to take all necessary measures to ensure that human rights defenders can carry out their activities of denunciation, accompaniment, and protection, free from attacks or acts of violence that may endanger their life, integrity, and safety.

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. 026/15