Mexico must end pattern of discrimination against indigenous peoples – UN expert

GENEVA November 20, 2017 – The UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples Rights, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, has urged Mexico to achieve an equal and respectful relationship with indigenous peoples, in order to end a “serious pattern” of human rights abuses.

“I recognize and commend Mexico’s support for the advancement of the indigenous agenda on the international stage, including its support for my mandate,” said Ms. Tauli-Corpuz, ending an official visit to the country.

“This commitment has to be consistent and should be reflected in the implementation of these standards in Mexico. The Government should take decisive steps to show its real commitment to fulfil the rights of indigenous peoples.

“This could create the necessary conditions for a sustained and inclusive dialogue, addressing all outstanding issues and providing an opportunity to establish trust, and create a new relationship between indigenous peoples and the State based on equality, respect and non-discrimination.”

During her mission, the Special Rapporteur met more than 200 people from 23 different indigenous groups – half of whom were women –  drawn from 18 Mexican states.

“As members of indigenous peoples shared their problems and stories with me, I was able to recognize a serious pattern of exclusion and discrimination, which in turn reflects in a lack of access to justice, among other human rights violations,” the UN expert noted.

“Another serious issue brought to my attention was the fact that indigenous peoples are not being properly consulted, according to international standards, on projects and other decisions that affect their rights, including their right to life.”

The Special Rapporteur said she would forward specific cases of concern to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, if the people involved had given their consent.

“I am inspired by your strength and determination in continuing to defend your rights and those of others,” she said, thanking all those who had received her in their territories and or travelled long distances to share their stories.

The UN expert also met officials during her visit to Mexico City and the states of Chiapas, Chihuahua and Guerrero.

The Special Rapporteur used her visit, from 8-17 November, to assess whether recommendations made by her predecessor in 2003 had been implemented, and to evaluate how Mexico had incorporated its international human rights commitments on indigenous peoples. Neither the 2003 recommendations nor the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, had been fully implemented, she noted.

A statement of her preliminary findings expresses concern over a range of issues including lands and territories, autonomy, self-determination and political participation, self-identification, violence, impunity and access to justice.

The Special Rapporteur thanked the government for inviting her to carry out the visit, and praised Mexico for its leading role in the adoption of the UN Declaration.

However, she said she regretted that some meetings with governmental authorities had involved an inadequate level of substantive dialogue and interaction, as the information provided had not been of a sufficiently high standard.

“This reflects the low priority given to indigenous peoples’ issues in some governmental institutions,” Ms. Tauli-Corpuz noted.

She will present her full report to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2018.

Ms Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, is an indigenous leader from the Kankana-ey Igorot people of the Cordillera Region in the Philippines. She has worked for over three decades on building movements among indigenous peoples and as an advocate for women’s rights.  Ms Tauli-Corpuz is the former Chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (2005-2010). She was actively engaged in the drafting and adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007.
 
The Independent Experts 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.

UN Human Rights, Country Page – Mexico  

OHCHR Mexico