April 18, 2000
COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
Agenda Item 17b: Human Rights Defenders
IED/HLP considers the Mexican Government's requisites and restrictions in
obtaining the coveted FM3 visas for human rights defenders, an obstacle to
human rights observation in Mexico and well outside of international norms.
Members of IED/HLP, must apply time and again at least 30 days in advance
of a planned visit. This prevents us from responding to emergency situations
like that of 17 year old Erika Garcia who was arrested as one of almost
1,000 students arrested between February 1st and February 6th, 2000 on the
campus of the UNAM. Erika was brutally beaten and kicked between her legs
by police resulting in vaginal hemorrhaging lasting several days. Despite
petitions from Mexican NGO, Miguel Agustin PRODH, Erika was not allowed
to be seen by outside physicians for one month. The prompt and adequate
care in detention cases continues to be or paramount concern. In this
instance Miguel Agustin PRODH and other Mexican NGOs were overwhelmed as
the responded to many cases of police abuse in this Mexico City emergency
and yet were unable to avail themselves of our presence given the
government's restrictions on international human right defenders.
On August 22, 1999 a Mexican physician, Lidia Rangel of the Human Rights
NGO, Enlace Civil, and two international observers was brutally beaten by
paramilitary as they left La Realidad near Nuevo Momon Chiapas. When they
came to the nearby military checkpoint, they were denied assistance.
In January of this year, most of the 43 foreigners cited by Mexican
officials, were expelled for their presumed presence in the Zapatista
community in Oventic, Chiapas. In testimony given us from the majority of
these cited and expelled, they tell of being subjected to lengthy and often
intimidating interrogations. Those cited were subsequently ordered to leave
Mexico. Among them was Kerry Appel of the Human Bean Co. who was expelled
for three years. Shortly thereafter, additional obstacles were added by the
Department of Immigration, to the already excessively restrictive process
in obtaining visas for human rights observations.