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UN Universal Periodic Review: Submission on internet-related human rights issues in Mexico

Association for Progressive Communications (APC), and LaNeta
Association for Progressive Communications (APC), and LaNeta on 9 April, 2013 - 16:56
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In partnership with members and networks, APC is working to protect and promote human rights online, engaging governments and other relevant stakeholders through a variety of United Nations processes including participating in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). This submission prepared by APC and LaNeta under the APC project End violence: Women’s rights and safety online project, focuses on human rights on the internet, with a particular focus on violence against women, and protection of journalists and human rights defenders. Their situation is made especially acute and is a reflection of increased militarisation and generalised violence in Mexico, with 60,000 to 100,000 murders and 25,000 disappeared. Despite the specific focus of this submission such a deterioration in the overall human rights in Mexico is of grave concern.

The submission addresses 3 core areas:

  • Freedom of information and protection of journalists
  • Violence against women
  • Internet access

Mexico is the most dangerous not-at-war country for the practice of journalism – it only follows Pakistan, Iraq and Somalia, all countries at war – the justice system and laws ignore when a communicator asks for help or when his/her remains, together with family, demand justice.

Despite international recommendations, Mexico still does not have an official database disaggregated by sex nor considering the specificities women human rights defenders and women journalists face. The Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders noted in her 2011 report that human rights defenders and activists dedicated to women’s rights on gender issues in the Americas are those that appear to be the most exposed to assassination and assassination attempt, particularly in Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras.

Violence against journalists and media is also increasing in online spaces. In 2010, organised crime used social media to spread messages of fear and intimidation. In 2011, four people were murdered between September and November in the city of Nuevo Laredo, as a direct result of online reporting about local organized crime and gangs through blogs, websites and social networks. Sexual harassment online of women journalists is exacerbated in online spaces.

The emergence of technology related forms of violence against women is part of the continuum of violence against women that “occurs in all countries, contexts and settings… is one of the most pervasive violations of human rights” and is a “manifestation of the historically unequal power relations between men and women and systemic gender-based discrimination”.

Cyberstalking, online harassment, image manipulation, and privacy violations have increasingly become part of intimate partner violence and sexual harassment compromising women and girls’ safety online and offline in many countries, including Mexico. Women human rights defenders including LGBTQI activists and journalists face additional attack due to their participation in public online spaces. This area of violence against women is little documented and there is little recourse for women who experience VAW mediated by technology.

The submission recommends that the Government of Mexico:

a) Urgently address the current levels of impunity and lack of journalist and human rights defenders safety.

b) Agree to take steps to strengthen the new protection authority Mechanism to ensure protection for journalists and media, including online content and developers. This necessitates addressing impunity, the development of violence prevention strategies to fully guarantee journalist and human rights defender safety, the inclusion of a gender perspective and protocols for women human rights defenders and journalists, as well as strategies for protecting privacy and anonymity of online content producers.

c) Improve the evidence base on all forms of violence against women and girls (VAWG), including femicide/feminicide, in order to enable the development of effective, evidence-informed policies and programs addressing VAWG.

d) Enact legal reform to ensure national laws addressing VAWG are in accordance with the Belém do Pará Convention and international agreements such as CEDAW and the Beijing Platform for Action, and guarantee effective implementation of existing laws that are in accordance with the Convention and international agreements.

e) Recognise violence against women and girls that is committed, aggravated and abetted by ICT as an emerging form of violence against women in monitoring, prevention and response mechanisms to end violence against women, including in public policy and if possible expanding the implementation of anti-VAW laws to respond to these forms of violence against women and girls.

f) Engage with and support civil society actors, human rights defenders and minority groups on issues related to human rights online, including protection of freedom of expression and freedom of association.

g) Ensure constitutional protections make it clear that freedom of expression in Mexico includes internet related expression, in accordance with the Human Rights Council Resolution on freedom of expression and the internet and General Comment 34 on Article 19 of the Human Rights Committee.

h) Agree to consider establishing national multi-stakeholder processes for internet governance and internet related human rights issues including internet access and development.

Read about the End violence: Women’s rights and safety online project

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