Persecution watchdog Christian Solidarity Worldwide is calling on state officials in Mexico, to intervene on behalf of four Protestant families who are at risk of losing their land in the central state of Hidalgo.
Gilberto Badillo, Uriel Badillo and their wives together with Agustina Lara and Adelina Simón Pozos were forcibly displaced from the village of Cuamontax Huazalingo in July 2019.
Officials in Hidalgo claim that the lands will be confiscated because of their failure to care for them, but the families have been denied access to their land because of threats from village leaders.
They were forced out because they refused to sign an agreement that prohibits Protestants from entering the village. Their houses have been attacked, all their belongings have been removed and the leaders of the village have put barbed wire around them to prevent the families from returning.
In January 2021, Uriel Badillo filed a complaint with the state of Hidalgo's Human Rights Office calling for his family's property rights be respected but there has been no follow-up action. To date, the families have been unable to return to their properties due to constant threats from the community leaders.
Elsewhere in Hidalgo, two Protestant families from La Mesa Limantitla village are being pressured to pay a heavy fine due to their religious beliefs.
CSW Head of Advocacy Anna-Lee Stangl said: "The Hidalgo state government's failure to address the religious freedom violations in the communities of Cuamontax and La Mesa Limantitla…has led directly to the continued deterioration of the situation and the current threats to now confiscate the families' land on which they are dependent."
"CSW is deeply troubled by the systemic violations of freedom of religion or belief in the state of Hidalgo and the state government's consistent failure to take any action to uphold freedom of religion or belief.
"We urge his government to take swift action to allow for the safe return of the families to the community of Cuamontax, so that they may once again enjoy the use of lands that are rightfully theirs and other rights as guaranteed in the Mexican constitution."