Mexico: surveillance and negligence

Human rights defenders targeted by government spying in Mexico

07/21/2017 mexico spying surveillance

According to investigations conducted by Citizen Lab, Article 19, R3D and SocialTIC and published by The New York Times, Mexican civil society activists, journalists, opposition parties and staff of international organizations critical of the government have been targets of spying. Human rights organizations from around the world have signed a statement calling for the creation of a panel of independent international experts to investigate the incident.

The revelations came to light on July 10 and show that Pegasus software, used exclusively by governments to investigate presumed criminals and terrorists, has been used to spy on people who have taken a stand publicly against corruption, unlawful public contracts, public health policies and serious human rights violations that occurred during the administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto when he was still governor of Mexico state. 

Among the people subject to espionage were 10 members of the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts of the IACHR (Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the OAS), which assisted in the investigation into the disappearance of 43 students in Ayotzinapa.

The organizations pointed out that the revelations of espionage come at a time of heightened violence against journalists and human rights defenders in Mexico. In the statement, the organizations also denounced the murder of at least seven journalists and six activists so far in 2017. According to Conectas and the other signatories of the document, “impunity for these cases continues to be the general rule” and “the response of the Mexican government to the allegations of espionage has been insufficient”.

The office of the Attorney General and the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Freedom of Expression announced that they have opened an investigation into the surveillance and requested the support of the United Nations and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). However, the organizations criticized the lack of transparency in the terms of this cooperation and the United States Ambassador to Mexico said that this support had not been officially requested. 

Besides Conectas, the statement was signed by another 10 international organizations, including Amnesty International, CEJIL (Center for Justice and International Law) and OSIJ (Open Society Justice Initiative).

> Click here to read the statement.