Mexico: Illegal digital surveillance against journalists and activists

Joint statement with members of the Open Government Partnership

The undersigned members of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Steering Committee express their deep concern over the reports of alleged illegal digital surveillance against Mexican journalists, activists, and other human rights defenders, as highlighted in a letter signed by the core group of civil society organizations that lead the OGP process in Mexico, and validated by Citizen Lab. We reiterate the invitation to the Mexican government to provide a formal response, should it choose to, in line with the guidelines of the Rapid Response Protocol. 

These allegations are highly relevant to the values of OGP outlined in the Open Government Declaration, which include “protecting the ability of not-for-profit and civil society organizations to operate in ways consistent with our commitment to freedom of expression, association, and opinion.” Civic participation requires an enabling environment that is conducive to freedom of expression and freedom of association and upholding the right of everyone to hold opinions without interference, and the right to privacy. Illegal digital surveillance activities are therefore incompatible with open government principles, diminish citizens’ trust in their governments, and undermine the safety of these groups and the critical role they play.

We recognize the Mexican government’s OGP commitment to establish “Democratic controls on interventions of private communications”, and we encourage government stakeholders, including the Secretariat of National Defense, the National Guard, the National Intelligence Center, and other relevant security agencies, to use the OGP process to prioritize its implementation. We appreciate the efforts made so far by Secretary Salcedo, Secretary of Public Administration, to advance dialogue between civil society and state actors to achieve the reforms envisioned in the commitment. We further encourage the government to strengthen the democratic controls to prevent unwarranted digital surveillance of journalists, activists, and human rights defenders.

The OGP Steering Committee stands ready to provide any support necessary, including identifying needs and opportunities for collaboration and facilitating dialogue. Should it be deemed fruitful by Mexican stakeholders, we respectfully offer two of our members -one from civil society and one from government- to engage with the filers of this concern and the Mexican government, including relevant security agencies, to continue to advance dialogue and co-create a specific timeline for the successful implementation of Mexico's OGP commitment "Democratic controls on interventions of private communications".

Endorsed by the following members of the OGP Steering Committee:

The Government of Canada
The Government of Estonia
The Government of Italy
The Government of Kenya
The Government of Nigeria
The Government of the United Kingdom
Natalia Carfi, Open Data Charter
Anabel Cruz, ICD Uruguay
Aidan Eyakuze, Twaweza
Eka Gigauri, Transparency International Georgia
Blair Glencorse, Accountability Lab
Lysa John, CIVICUS
Lucy McTernan, Scottish Open Government Partnership
Stephanie Muchai, International Lawyers Project
Luben Panov, European Center for Not-for-Profit Law
Doug Rutzen, International Center for Not-for-Profit Law
Barbara Schreiner, Water Integrity Network

Civic space in Mexico is rated as Repressed by the CIVICUS Monitor



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