Mexico: One year after the killing of Julián Carrillo, Amnesty International calls for justice and protection for environmental defenders

One year after the killing of the indigenous Rarámuri leader Julián Carrillo, Mexican authorities must carry out a thorough investigation to determine who was responsible for his death and for all the attacks against defenders of land, territory and the environment in Mexico, Amnesty International said today.

“The brave people who defend the land, territory and the environment face constant danger in Mexico. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador must publicly recognize their invaluable contribution to the protection of natural resources and his government must take vigorous action to guarantee they can work in safety”, said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

The number of people killed for their environmental activism in Mexico has increased in recent years. Global Witness reported 15 deaths in the country in 2017 compared to three in the previous year. The same organization said that 14 environmental defenders were killed in 2018. In the first nine months of 2019, Amnesty International has recorded the killing of at least 12 defenders of the land, territory and the environment in Mexico.

The brave people who defend the land, territory and the environment face constant danger in Mexico. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador must publicly recognize their invaluable contribution to the protection of natural resources and his government must take vigorous action to guarantee they can work in safety
Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International

In an emblematic case, on 24 October 2018, armed men killed Julián Carrillo in his community of Coloradas de la Virgen in the northern state of Chihuahua. Carrillo had previously been threatened and harassed for defending his ancestral territory in the Sierra Tarahumara and at least five other members of his family have been killed in recent years.

One year later, Mexican authorities have still not brought to justice those guilty of killing Carrillo. So far, two people have been detained and are under investigation, but no one has been charged. 

The authorities must conduct thorough, independent and impartial investigations into the killings of Carrillo, the other members of his family and all defenders of the land, territory and the environment in Mexico. The López Obrador administration must, without delay, prepare a prevention and protection policy to deal with the structural causes of violence. The risk analysis and the measures to be implemented should be focused on collectives, not just individuals.

Julián Carrillo was killed even though he was enrolled in the government’s Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders and Journalists. This situation is extremely serious and urgently requires a thorough review of the mechanism to ensure it really prevents and protects defenders of the land, territory and the environment in Mexico
Tania Reneaum Panszi, executive director of Amnesty International Mexico

“Julián Carrillo was killed even though he was enrolled in the government’s Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders and Journalists. This situation is extremely serious and urgently requires a thorough review of the mechanism to ensure it really prevents and protects defenders of the land, territory and the environment in Mexico,” said Tania Reneaum Panszi, executive director of Amnesty International Mexico.

“The struggle to protect land rights and combat the indiscriminate exploitation of natural resources deserves our solidarity and support, given our fundamental duty to leave a healthy environment for future generations”.

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:

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

Alejandro Juárez (Amnesty International Mexico): prensa@amnistia.org.mx