The Mexican government must provide answer over censorship of human rights website.

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Dario Ramirez

05 Mar 2014

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Lawyers representing a website documenting human rights abuses in Mexico are taking their censorship battle to court. 1Dmx.org was taken down late last year and it is alleged that Mexican and United States authorities have colluded to close the website. 1Dmx.org was launched in 2012 to collate information about the excessive use of force by Mexican police and security forces against protesters during the inauguration of President Peña Nieto.

Photographs, video footage and written accounts submitted by the public to 1Dmx show that the Federal Police fired rubber bullets at protesters. Information provided to the site also suggest the projectile that killed theatre director and activist Juan Francisco Kuykendall came from the police forces and not from the demonstrators, as has been suggested. Observers say the Mexican authorities must account for 99 arbitrary arrests and 6 documented cases of torture.

Human rights campaigners rightly argue that the website has been a crucial means of collecting documentary evidence to challenge official versions of events of 1 December 2012. There is reasonable speculation that representatives of the state have fabricated testimonies and falsified evidence against those people arrested orinjured on the day.

In this context, the censorship of 1Dmx is all the more shocking.

We know that late last yearthe U.S Embassy in Mexico asked the U.S domain provider GoDaddy.com to take down the site. Within days GoDaddy.com had complied and 1Dmx.org was offline.

Initially, GoDaddy.com sent an email to the website managers at 1Dmx explaining the site had been taken down because of a violation of the terms and conditions of the service. However, the next day, a second email from GoDaddy.com revealed the suspension was in fact the result of an ongoing law enforcement investigation. No further explanation about the decision was offered and the web managers were told to contact a homeland security investigations special agent at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico. After a frustratingly vague dialogue with the Embassy, it seemed to all involved reasonable to assume that the Mexican government was in some way connected.

This assumption was well founded. In the past days it has been revealed that the U.S. Embassy were responding to a request by Mexico’s Specialized Centre on Technological Response (CERT), an agency under the control of the Federal Police, governed by the Secretariat of the Interior.

Lawyers for 1Dmx have initiated legal action and argue that this kind of censorship is unconstitutional. It is absolutely right that the Mexican government provide a full explanation for their secret collusion with the U.S to censor a website cataloguing serious human rights violations perpetrated by the state.

The judge, seeking to understand their justification for acting to close the site, ordered that CERT and the Federal Police provide information about their actions. The deadline for those bodies to pass on that information has now passed and neither has responded to the request.

Freedom of expression in Mexico is under increasing pressure. The violent response of the state to peaceful protest denies people the right to make their democratic voices heard. The censorship of a website gathering evidence of legitimate concerns about acts of state perpetuated violence is a dark and sinister move and the current Mexican government must step into the light and explain itself.

 Those behind the website say that they will continue to upload information exposing human rights violations as many times as is necessary to ensure the public have access to the truth. In fact, you can read it here… for the time being at least.

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