IACHR Asks Mexico to Prevent and Punish Violence in the Upcoming Election Process

May 27, 2021

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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has observed acts of violence committed against political actors—including candidates and nominees—in the context of the election that is scheduled for June 2021 in Mexico. The IACHR calls on the Mexican State to prevent violence by providing protection and security measures during the election process, and to ensure adequate investigations aimed at preserving political rights.

According to Mexico's National Electoral Institute, more than 19,000 federal, state, and municipal positions will be at stake on June 6, 2021, in the largest election in the country's history. Mexico is set to renew the lower chamber of its Congress, as well as several state and municipal positions across its 32 federal entities.

Based on public reports and official data, the Commission has observed worrying acts of violence against candidates and nominees and against other leaders and supporters of various political movements and organizations. Between March 4 and May 21, 2021, the Candidate Protection Mechanism received 398 complaints involving alleged threats or attacks (concerning 226 men and 172 women). These attacks included 13 murders against candidates, particularly in municipal and local election processes.

Based on public reports, the IACHR has also noted that, since this election process started in September 2020 and until May 26, 2021, at least 88 political actors have allegedly died as a result of this violence, including 34 individuals who were candidates or nominees in elections.

According to public reports, these attacks have involved threats made over the telephone and in social media, asking recipients to give up their candidacies or face kidnappings and other risks including attacks on their own or their families' lives and integrity. The allegations have further included intimidation, physical and verbal abuse, and disruptive actions aimed at interrupting campaign rallies in public places. The Commission also notes that the National Electoral Institute has received 54 further complaints concerning acts of gender-based political violence against women, particularly at the municipal level. The IACHR further observes the existence of allegations of an alleged usurpation of nominations reserved for indigenous and Afro-descendant persons by individuals who do not belong to these ethnic and racial groups.

The State noted that, through the Candidate Protection Mechanism, protection measures have been granted to 65 candidates, of which 40 are being protected by state police corps, 17 by the National Guard, and eight by other authorities. The Security and Citizen Protection Ministry says it has received instructions from the country's president to protect all candidates, from all parties, who have received threats from organized crime or from corrupt officials.

The American Convention protects the right to vote and be elected in periodic, authentic elections, with universal suffrage and secret ballots that guarantee the free expression of the will of the voters. Therefore, attacks against political actors during an election process not only violate the rights to life and integrity, but also affect the electoral rights of voters and candidates.

Along similar lines, various bodies of the Inter-American System have noted the obligation to ensure full equality and non-discrimination for vulnerable groups in election contexts. In the case of indigenous peoples, the Inter-American System has acknowledged their right to full and effective political participation through their elected representatives. Further, the Belém do Pará Convention notes that violence against women hinders and prevents the exercise of their political and other rights. The IACHR therefore reminds the State of its duty to prevent, punish, and eradicate political discrimination, violence, and harassment against women in the context of election processes.

The IACHR notes its rejection of acts of violence and calls on the Mexican State to continue to guarantee, through its Candidate Protection Mechanism and other relevant means, the protection and security measures needed to ensure the rights to life, personal integrity, and safety of candidates to elected positions at the different levels of government and of other political actors, without distinction, in order to preserve the exercise of the rights to elect and be elected, free from violence. The Commission further calls on the State to launch new investigations into allegations of violence and to diligently pursue ongoing investigations.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 138/21