Mexico: Killing of Rarámuri leader highlights lack of state protection for human rights defenders

The killing of the Rarámuri Indigenous human rights defender Julián Carrillo in the state of Chihuahua yesterday highlights yet again the lack of protection and inefficiency of the protective measures provided by the Mexican authorities to the Indigenous communities of the Sierra Tarahumara, Amnesty International said today.

“Once again we have seen how, without changes which take into account the structural causes of the violence against human rights defenders, providing a police escort or a telephone is not enough to stop the wave of violence facing those who dare to speak out to defend their territory”, said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

Once again we have seen how, without changes which take into account the structural causes of the violence against human rights defenders, providing a police escort or a telephone is not enough to stop the wave of violence facing those who dare to speak out to defend their territory
Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International

Julián Carrillo, leader of the Coloradas de La Virgen community, was killed by unidentified attackers on the night of 24 October. His killing is the latest in a series of deaths in his family: on 5 February 2016 his son Víctor Carrillo was killed; on 31 March 2017 one of his nephews, Antonio Alberto Quiñones, was killed; on 30 July 2017 another of his nephews, Guadalupe Carrillo Polanco, was killed; and on 1 July 2018 his son-in-law, Francisco Chaparro Carrillo, was killed.

“The killing of Julián Carrillo must not go unpunished. It is imperative that the Mexican authorities identify those who carried out this crime and those who were behind it and bring them to justice before a civilian court,” said Erika Guevara Rosas.

“The national and local authorities must immediately implement adequate protection measures to safeguard the lives and physical integrity of the family of Julián Carrillo and other members of the community, and to defend the right to their territory in Coloradas de La Virgen”.

The killing of Julián Carrillo must not go unpunished. It is imperative that the Mexican authorities identify those who carried out this crime and those who were behind it and bring them to justice before a civilian court
Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International

Since 2007, the Coloradas de La Virgen community has been fighting a legal battle in the Unitary Agrarian Court over the exploitation of natural resources in their ancestral territory. The work to defend their territory has resulted in a countless number of threats against members of the community and against the Alianza Sierra Madre AC (ASMAC) organization, which has been supporting them throughout this process of asserting their rights.

The severity of the threats against Julián Carrillo led to him being granted protection under the Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders and Journalists, but the attacks against him and the community did not stop. In December 2016, Julián Carrillo’s house was burned down; on several occasions heavily armed groups have harassed the community and threatened its members; and several members of the community have been forced to leave their territory due to the levels of violence.

The killing of Julián Carrillo comes only a few weeks after members of the community had reported to different government authorities the existence of a mining concession granted to three private individuals in their territory. According to the community, this concession was granted without carrying out free, prior and informed consultation.

According to the Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders and Journalists, between January and October 2018, 16 human rights defenders were killed in Mexico. Yesterday, Julián Carrillo became the seventeenth.

“It is the responsibility of all state authorities to provide the necessary conditions so that those who work to defend human rights do not have to abandon their work in the face of this escalating terror.” said Erika Guevara Rosas.

Julian holds a list with the people of his family that was assassinated in the past years.