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Mexico: The Observatory condemns the murder of lawyer and indigenous rights defender Patricia Rivera Reyes

23 March 2022

Lawyer and activist Patricia Susana Rivera Reyes, known for her commitment to defending the rights of indigenous communities, was murdered on Saturday at her home in Tijuana, Baja California. 

According to the Baja California State Attorney’s Office, three masked intruders broke into her home in the border town of Tijuana where a party was being held on Saturday night. The intruders stripped the guests of their personal belongings. Rivera Reyes reportedly demanded her mobile phone back when one of the assailants shot her in the head.  

Earlier this year, the mexican government acknowledged that 97 activists and human rights defenders have been killed under the current administration since 1 December 2018. The authorities informed that 90% of these crimes have not yet resulted in convictions. 

The Observatory wishes to recall the requirements of the recent condemnation of the Mexican State by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in the case of the murder of the lawyer Digna Ochoa. Specifically, the obligation to develop “a specific and specialised protocol for the investigation of attacks against human rights defenders, taking into account the risks inherent to their work, which requires an exhaustive examination of the possibility that the attack was motivated by or related to the promotion of human rights by the victim, with a gender and ethnic perspective”. 

The Observatory strongly condemns the murder of Patricia Rivera Reyes and expresses its solidarity with the family and friends of the victim. 

The Observatory calls on the Mexican authorities to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators with all due diligence. 

The Observatory reminds the Mexican authorities the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, adopted by the Eighth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, held in Havana, Cuba, from 27 August to 7 September 1990, which state the following: 

Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference.” (Principle 16). 

Where the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities.“(Principle 17)