December 9, 2011 – Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the attack in Mexico against human rights defender Norma Andrade, leader of the group Nuestras Hijas de Regreso a Casa (Our Daughters Back Home), an organization that seeks justice for the girls and women disappeared or killed in the State of Chihuahua. Norma Andrade specifically sought justice for the killing of her daughter, Lilia Alejandra García Andrade, assassinated in 2001. Norma Andrade is beneficiary of precautionary measures granted by the IACHR.

The IACHR urges the State of Mexico to protect Norma Andrade and her family, and to investigate the attack, in order to prosecute and punish those responsible for committing and masterminding it.

According to the information received, unknown persons attacked Norma Andrade on Friday, when she was about to enter her house, and she was hit with five bullets. Her belongings were allegedly not stolen. Her daughter, Malú García Andrade, informed that Norma Andrade allegedly was followed that day and that unknown persons allegedly went to her employment site and requested information on her schedule and her address. According to the State Commission on Human Rights, Norma Andrade is hospitalized in serious condition.

The Inter-American Commission had received information before on alleged homicides, threats, harassment and attacks against human rights defenders who seek justice for the cases of women killed in Ciudad Juárez and other places in the State of Chihuahua. In December 2010, the IACHR condemned the assassination of Marisela Escobedo, who was gunned down at the entrance of the Government Palace of the State of Chihuaha, where she was claiming justice for the violent death of her daughter, Rubí Marisol Frayre, killed in 2008 when she was 16 years old.

The IACHR calls to mind that it is the State’s obligation to investigate such acts of its own accord and to punish those responsible. The Commission also urges the State of México to immediately and urgently adopt all necessary measures to guarantee the right to life, integrity, and security of the family members of Norma Andrade, and to ensure due protection for human rights defenders who work seeking justice for the cases of women killed in Chihuahua, as well as all human rights defenders in the country.

As the Commission has noted previously, acts of violence and other attacks perpetrated against human rights defenders not only affect the guarantees that belong to all human beings; they also undermine the fundamental role human rights defenders play in society and contribute to the vulnerability of all those whose rights they champion. The Commission also recalls that the work of human rights defenders is critical for building a solid and lasting democratic society. Human rights defenders play a leading role in the process of seeking to attain the full rule of law and the strengthening of democracy.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in a personal capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

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