The Special Rapporteur visited Mexico in 2017 and observed that threats, harassment, and the criminalization of members of indigenous communities during consultation processes tend to undermine the “free” character of the same. For example, community members of the Yaqui tribe have suffered various attacks, threats, and criminalization for opposing the construction of an aqueduct and a gas pipeline and for demanding consultations and that their free, prior, and informed consent be sought for projects built in their territories. The indigenous leader Mario Luna was detained in 2014 for leading community protests on criminal charges of “illegal deprivation of liberty” and “theft.” Since being released, he has continued to be threatened and attacked, despite calls from the Mexican National Human Rights Commission to ensure his protection and precautionary measures in favor of the Yaqui community issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The serious situation of attacks and violence against indigenous communities was also observed in the Montañas de Guerrero, Sierra Tarahumara, and Chiapas.
At the regional level, the precautionary and provisional measures awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and Inter-American Court of Human Rights are of significant importance as they underline the state’s responsibility to ensure the protection and safety of indigenous communities and individuals in imminent danger. The Special Rapporteur deeply regrets that, despite such measures having been awarded by the regional human rights system, national protection measures are often inadequate. This is illustrated by the murder of several indigenous leaders and by the ongoing attacks and threats, for example against the Choréachi and Yaqui communities in Mexico, all of whom had been granted those measures.
TESTIMONY FROM THE SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR’S
CRIMINALIZATION SUMMIT IN GENEVA IN MARCH 2018
Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Montaña
Tlapa de Comonfort
1:33: “The state knows that one way to fracture our movement is through the detention of our leaders or by stigmatizing them within our communities. Communities think of their leaders as wise individuals who are willing to sacrifice their lives for their people, but the government sees them only as criminals, kidnappers, as perpetrators of serious crimes. The situation is the same in other countries, and this is how they try to fracture our movements.”
3:11: "There’s also been much discussion about how women have played a very important role in our resistance, but, it’s also true that in part, the fracture of our movements has to do with the way that patriarchal culture has conquered and colonized Indigenous Peoples. So, instead of empowering and recognizing our women, our women are stigmatized and accused of taking part in actions that, most of the times, create division within our communities.”
15:48: “Indigenous Peoples are not recognized as legal subjects. At the same time, perpetrators of crimes against us are shielded and protected. Corruption silences the voice of Indigenous Peoples; their voices are discredited; their demands are not listened to. Obviously, when they speak their native languages, justice is unattainable, because they cannot access justice using their native languages. In these instances, our rights are limited and there are some tensions between the applicability of indigenous law and national law. While our legal systems have some recognition, they are not used. Indigenous Peoples are sentenced to very long terms; they are victims of the state’s judicial system and they are unable to use their own legal systems to bring to justice people who threaten their territories.”