24 November 2017
GENEVA, 24 November 2017 (Issued as received) – A UN Special Rapporteur has strongly condemned the killing of a state-level Ombudsperson in Mexico and called on the Government to set up protection schemes for defenders at risk, including people working in national human rights institutions.
Silvestre de la Toba Camacho, the Ombudsperson in Baja California Sur state, died on 20 November in an attack which also killed his son and left his wife and daughter seriously injured.
“I condemn the killing of Silvestre de la Toba Camacho in the strongest possible terms, and am equally outraged by the assault on his family,” said the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst.
“I call on the state and federal authorities to ensure that a thorough investigation is conducted and the perpetrators are brought to justice.”
Mr. Forst said he had concluded after a mission to Mexico in January that ending the country’s current cycle of impunity was one of its biggest challenges.
“The best way to ensure the safety of human rights defenders is by bringing those who attempt to harm them to justice,” he said.
“National Human Rights Institutions play a crucial role in the protection of human rights. As such, governments should put in place protection schemes to ensure that persons who work for them are able to perform their functions in a safe and autonomous manner.”
Mr. Michel Forst (France) was appointed by the Human Rights Council as the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders in 2014. He has extensive experience on human rights issues and particularly on the situation of human rights defenders. In particular, he was the Director General of Amnesty International (France) and Secretary General of the first World Summit on Human Rights Defenders in 1998. He is a former UN Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Haiti.
The 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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