Mexico: Freedom of expression and defence of human rights at risk

Recent actions by various state governments in Mexico are jeopardizing freedom of expression and assembly in the country and could be a step towards criminalizing the defence of human rights, Amnesty International said today.

In the state of Tabasco, state deputies approved a reform that criminalizes public demonstrations. It provides for lengthy prison terms for actions opposing any public or private project or works and for obstructing roads or other means of communication.

These actions show the fragile state of human rights in Mexico and the lack of political will on the part of governments to ensure that people can express themselves freely against projects or policies promoted by the authorities
Tania Reneaum, executive director of Amnesty International Mexico

“The reform in Tabasco would allow the government and the private sector to impose megaprojects and deprive local people of a voice to oppose them if they are affected. This is a clear violation of the right to freedom of expression. In addition, people wanting to exercise their right to peaceful assembly would be criminalized,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

Amnesty International believes that the restrictions set out in the bill are so broadly framed that people would effectively no longer be able to meet and freely express their views about government-approved projects.

Laws of this kind have been used in Mexico to unduly restrict demonstrations and to criminalize human rights defenders.

Since 2016, the federal government has used this type of offence to criminalize peaceful protesters opposing a Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) project in Cuetzalan in the state of Puebla. The CFE is currently using such criminal charges to try to force the community to accept a public project.

The reform in Tabasco would allow the government and the private sector to impose megaprojects and deprive local people of a voice to oppose them if they are affected. This is a clear violation of the right to freedom of expression.
Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International

On Friday, 26 July, students and others in the state of Jalisco demonstrating against the announcement of a rise in the cost of public transport reported excessive interference from the authorities, including the misuse of force by police officers. Several protesters were beaten in circumstances where they did not appear to pose a risk to anyone and the gathering was dispersed without any clear justification.

“These actions show the fragile state of human rights in Mexico and the lack of political will on the part of governments to ensure that people can express themselves freely against projects or policies promoted by the authorities,” said Tania Reneaum, executive director of Amnesty International Mexico.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please call:

Duncan Tucker (Amnesty International Americas): duncan.tucker@amnesty.org

Direri Pérez (Amnesty International Mexico): direri.perez@amnistia.org.mx