Through the Shelter City project the Dutch NGO Justice & Peace offers human rights defenders the possibility for rest and respite by letting them escape from a temporarily threatening situation. In this seminar Lucía, a Mexican human rights defender, will share her experiences. How do you fight for human rights in a hostile environment?
Lucía will discuss what problems exist in Mexico, what motivates her to do her work, what challenges she faces in her work and what possibilities and future perspectives she sees for human rights activists in her country.
Lucía’s son, Luis, was kidnapped in June 2013 and has been missing ever since. In the search for her son, she founded the ‘Solecito de Veracruz’. Ever since, she strives to shed light on enforced disappearances in the state of Veracruz, Mexico. She exposes the omission of local and federal authorities to investigate and support families of the victims, as well as the serious shortcomings in the processing of the recovered remains. In May 2016, they discovered the largest clandestine grave in the past six years. Most recently, in March 2017, 8 new clandestine graves have been found in the community of El Arbolito, in the Chihuahua region in Northern Mexico.
The phenomenon of enforced disappearances (a crime under international law whereby people simply “disappear” after being abducted, without their loved ones to ever hear from them again) is widespread in Mexico. Since 2006, more than 26 000 people have been reported as disappeared. The involvement of security forces and state agents in those crimes is well documented, especially under the precedent regime of President Felipe Calderón. While Mexico is party to the International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, impunity remains the norm and the system of investigation is flawed, endangering those who expose authorities. In April 2017, a Bill on Enforced Disappearances was adopted by the Senate, but it still awaits approval from the Chamber of Deputies.
Over the past years Lucía and her colleagues have become the victim of security threats and harassment as a result of their work. In the past, several of her colleagues have been directly targeted in attacks. As representative and spokesperson of Solecito de Veracruz, Lucía lives with the risk of being targeted herself.
You are most welcome to attend this seminar.
If you plan to come, please inform Joris van Wijk in advance (j.van.wijk[at]vu.nl).
Fighting for human rights in Mexico
Challenges and possibilities
Tuesday 21 November 2017
VU University Amsterdam
Bellevue Building: OH-21