Lord Mayor praises work of Human Rights Defenders

Dublin’s Lord Mayor Críona Ní Dhálaigh welcomed Juan José Villagómez Hernández , a leading campaigner for Human Rights in Mexico.  Juan Jose was accompanied by members of the Irish Branch of Peace Brigades International.  Peace Brigades International provides support for front line Human Rights Defenders at risk, and campaigns for International recognition of their work.  Their Mexican Office is headed by an Irish Human Rights Activist , Niamh Ni Bhriain from County Clare.

Juan José is Project leader in the Saltillo Migrant House in Coahuila, Mexico.  He works with migrants from central America who move to Mexico to escape violence and poverty.  His role is to help ensure they have the necessary documentation and supports to find jobs and establish a new life.  Migrants also face harassment and discrimination, so the Centre acts as an advocate for their right to fair and equitable treatment under law.

The Lord Mayor met a number of Human Rights NGOs , including Peace Brigades International during her recent mission to Mexico.  During that Mission Dublin signed a trade and co-operation agreement with Mexico City.  Mexico is one of the world’s fastest growing economies and a key trading partner for Ireland.

The Lord Mayor presented Juan and the Centre with a Mayoral Scroll that recognises their courage and commitment to Human Rights.  An tArdmhéara, Críona Ní Dhálaigh commented:  “Ireland and Mexico are firm friends and partners in economic, social and cultural co-operation.  Good friends recognise that in each other’s countries there are challenges that need to be addressed.  We share the commitment to create fair and equitable societies, but sometimes we fall short in achieving this objective.  Presently Ireland has the challenge of securing housing for everyone; Mexico has the challenge of ensuring everyone has equal treatment under law.  NGOs’ like the Saltillo Migrant House play an invaluable role in reminding us of our adversities and bringing national and world attention to help us address them.  We here in Dublin know the value of such organisations that ensure the homeless are not forgotten”.

Karen Jeffares co-ordinator of Peace Brigades International in Ireland observed : “ Our role is to ensure that Irish public opinion is aware of the work of a Human Rights Defender such as Juan José and the difficulties that they often encounter when carrying out human rights work.  Countries like Mexico are fast becoming economic powerhouses and are developing strong legal mechanisms to protect human rights. Sometimes however the reality on the ground does not match the legal frameworks that guarantee human rights. Countries that want to build a better future for their people  care about,  and are influenced by  the International perception of their performance on issues of social justice and human rights. By inviting Juan José to visit Ireland we can highlight and promote the cause of human rights in Mexico .”