May 28, 2019 — A broad coalition of civil society organizations working together in a Human Rights Observation Mission (MODH) of the Humanitarian Crisis of Refugees and Migrants in Southeast Mexico, has alerted the public to serious rights violations in the Huehetan Provisional Migration Station. This past May 25, twenty nine people were finally released from detention after 45 days in a center that is legally obligated to release people after no more than 48 hours, due to limited and precarious conditions.
The coalition sent out an alert noting the horrific conditions, including lack of potable water or decent food, severe overcrowding, complete lack of medical care and other violations. A woman with a high risk pregnancy, as well as an individual with epilepsy formed part of the group.
This situation is the latest manifestation of a pattern of abuses in detention in Mexico. The members of the Human Rights Observation Mission will carry out a series of follow up site visits in Chiapas from May 29-31 and will provide additional information on conditions in other parts of southern Mexico. The Human Rights Observation mission is comprised of: Colectivo de Observación y Monitoreo de Derechos Humanos en el Sureste Mexicano, Alianza Américas, Grupo Impulsor contra la Detención Migratoria y la Tortura, Grupo de Trabajo sobre Política Migratoria (GTPM), la Red Jesuita con Migrantes Centroamérica y Norteamérica (RJM CANA) y la Red Nacional de Organismos Civiles de Derechos Humanos “Todos los Derechos para Todas y Todos” (Red TDT).
For the past six months, Alianza Americas has carried out workshops and interviews with shelters and rights defenders who are working with migrants and asylum seekers in Mexico. We have heard countless stories of people who have had to return to Mexico to await an asylum claim. Most of these individuals lacked legal assistance, so judges issue a continuance and the person is forced to return to Mexico. New statistics release this week show how prevalent this pattern has become.
In Ciudad Juárez, from October 2018 to May 17, 2019, 14,500 people have asked to be put on the list to request asylum in the US. Of those, 9,700 have crossed into the US according to the Chihuahua State Population Council, which is the entity that manages the list. A similar situation takes place at other border crossings, where the Mexican authorities are managing the lists of US asylum seekers.
Ciudad Juarez has developed a relatively strong coordination among shelters and civil society organizations, but the volume of requests is still a challenge. It other places, where the numbers are even higher, such as Mexicali and Tijuana, the situation is even more dire.
The so-called Migrant Protection Protocols, or Remain in Mexico, as they are known respectively in the US and Mexico constitute a clear violation of due process and protection rights. The practice of returning people to Mexico with no guarantees of protection put people at extreme risk, as rights organizations, including Alianza Americas, have pointed out for months.
The UN Committee Against Torture (CAT) has completed its review of Mexico’s 7th periodic review of its compliance with the Convention Against Torture. The conclusions and recommendations identified numerous human rights violations including: automatic detention of asylum seekers; prolonged detention times; detention of unaccompanied children in adult detention centers; and inadequate physical and service infrastructure in detention centers. The CAT called on Mexico to remedy these problems, and especially to address critical gaps in access to justice and inadequate detention conditions for children and adults. The CAT also insisted on the importance of not returning people who have a fear of being tortured back into danger, and improving access to asylum in Mexico.These observations coincide with strong recommendations from civil society organizations who have sounded the alarm about rights violations of migrants and asylum seekers in detention in Mexico. Cruel and inhuman treatment and jail-like conditions along with lack of access to justice, have been called out by the Grupo impulsor (an anti-torture/anti-detention network) and the Consejo Cuidadano (the Citizen Advisory Group of the Mexican National Migration Institute. Alianza Americas is committed to pressing the Mexican government to implement the CAT recommendations and work toward a rights-based agenda for migration and humanitarian protection in Mexico.