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Defending Human Rights

Human rights defenders continued their detailed reporting and energetic advocacy but faced renewed pressure from politicians who sought to blame them for some of the country's crime problems, particularly during the presidential election campaign. At one campaign stop, for instance, the PRI's presidential candidate courted the get-tough-on-crime vote by announcing: "Let it be known that the law was made to protect the human rights of citizens, not criminals." A similar slogan had worked for a successful PRI gubernatorial candidate in 1999.

The pressure created was more than simply theoretical; it helped create a hostile environment for human rights defenders. In June, authorities appeared to act on this distrust of human rights groups as the All Rights for All Mexican Human Rights Network (Red de Organismos Civiles de Derechos Humanos Todos Derechos para Todos, known as the Red) reported that their Mexico City office was under surveillance. According to the Red, the city prosecutor's office later revealed that agents of the federal National Security System (Sistema Nacional de Seguridad, SISEN) had been filming the office, although the motive of the surveillance was not made known to the group. The same month, Digna Ochoa of PRODH received telephoned death threats. She was the lead defense lawyer representing the detained environmentalists in Guerrero.

Arturo Solís, director of the Center for Border Studies and Promotion of Human Rights (Centro de Estudios Fronterizos y de Promoción de los Derechos Humanos, CEFPRODAC), also came under attack during the year. An immigration official and private citizen in Tamaulipas state, home of the center, accused Solís of defamation in July, after CEFPRODAC provided federal prosecutors with information in June on corruption within the National Immigration Institute (Instituto Nacional de Migración, INM). Authorities failed to investigate Solís' claims in depth, but moved the defamation case forward, according to the center. In August, the center received telephoned death threats, and unidentified individuals kept Solis' house under surveillance. Some witnesses who supported Solís retracted their statements after receiving threats.

Human Rights Watch World Report 2000

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