GENEVA (20 November 2020) – Ahead of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, UN human rights experts* today called on Mexican authorities to protect, not attack, women who peacefully demonstrate against violence.
“There is nothing more ironic – and outrageous – than the recent sight of police attacking women who were protesting against the violence and death women face every day in Mexico,” the experts said.
They made the call ahead of International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November, the start of the annual 16 Days campaign that ends on UN Human Rights Day on 10 December.
“Violence absolutely cannot be used to repress women who only want to live a life free of violence for themselves and all women and girls, and who protest against femicide, the most lethal form of violence against women, and demand justice for victims.”
“Now more than ever, it is vital that Mexican authorities respect and protect the right to peaceful assembly, as well as promote it in public discourse” they said. However, they added, during demonstrations the threat of sexual harassment, violence, arrest, and detention that women face daily in public becomes even worse.
The Mexican governmentat all levels, has an obligation to create an environment where women can fully and safely exercise their right to freedom of peaceful assembly, without fear of reprisal. It must ensure that the force is only used as a last resort and in accordance with the principle of proportionality, that lethal weapons are not used, and that women are not sexually assaulted in future protests.
The experts called for specific steps to fight the machismo culture within the police force, such as strengthening mechanisms of police accountability, but also to fight gender stereotypes in society.
“Above all, there must be accountability for the way police officers treat women protesters and women human rights defenders, who play a crucial role in promoting women’s right to a life free from violence,” they said.
In June, the experts raised with the Mexican government their concern over intimidation and threats against those promoting women's rights, particularly threats against women human rights defenders. They are aware of the authorities and other public institutions’ efforts to tackle this pattern of violence in the context of protests and violence against women.
The Experts: Mr. Clément Voule, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Ms. Dubravka Šimonović, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Ms. Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders, and the Working Group on discrimination against women and girls: Ms. Elizabeth Broderick (Chair), Ms. Dorothy Estrada-Tanck, Ms. Meskerem Geset Techane, Ms. Ivana Radačić and Ms. Melissa Upreti (Vice-Chair).
Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.
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