The Human Rights Center Fray Bartolomé de las Casas (Frayba) and the Swedish Fellowship of Reconciliation (SweFOR) demonstrate concern for the human rights defender Father Marcelo Pérez Pérez due to acts of criminalization.
Concern for the safety of Father Marcelo,
Parish priest at the municipality of Simojovel and human rights defender, Chiapas, Mexico
Father Marcelo is an acknowledged human rights defender that, in his role as parish at the municipality of Simojovel and Social Work Coordinator at the diocese of San Cristóbal de las Casas, has realized innumerable actions in defense of human rights. Father Marcelo works for indigenous peoples rights, land rights, accompanies displaced communities, migrants and mediates in conflicts. Moreover, Father Marcelo accompanies human rights defenders criminalized for their human rights work.
Due to his work in defending human rights, Father Marcelo constantly suffers from public illegitimization, criminalization and defamation. The attacks have exacerbated since the beginning of 2021, involving statements from a recently elected public officer, discrediting the work of Father Marcelo.
The risks Father Marcelo is exposed to as a human rights defender, are reflected in the concession of the precautionary measures no. MC-506-14 issued in 2016 by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). The measures are still active and indispensable, yet not sufficient to guarantee a safe environment to continue his work for human rights.
Hence, the IACHR affirms that public statements that discredit and illegitimise the work of human rights defenders, as Father Marcelo, make them more vulnerable, and it is the government’s obligation to publicly acknowledge that promoting and defending human rights is a legitimate act.
Therefore, Frayba and SweFOR call for the Mexican government to draw attention to their international human rights obligations, and to acknowledge Father Marcelo Peŕez Peŕez’s work for human rights and peace in Chiapas. Consequently, we request that any act of public authority that puts Father Marcelo’s personal integrity at risk, or those who accompanies him, to be avoided.
The Human Rights Center Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas
Swedish Fellowship of Reconciliation
San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, México
20 de julio de 2021
Read the complete statement here.