Mexico: Amnesty International demands guarantees over access to migrant detention centres

Amnesty International has described as “very grave” the decision by the Mexican National Institute of Migration (INM) to temporarily suspend access by all religious associations and NGOs to the country's migration detention centres.

Last Friday, Amnesty published an open letter asking the INM commissioner to guarantee all civil society organisations access to all migrant detention centres, in compliance with the recommendations made by various United Nations mechanisms and procedures.

However, on Monday, the INM decided to formally suspend the admission of all organisations to the country's migrant detention centres.

Hours after this information was published, the INM warned that new dates of entry would be ‘rescheduled’, but shortly afterwards the Ministry of the Interior distanced itself from that statement, generating further concern about the lack of coordination and the situation of migrants.

The INM took this unilateral decision without clarity about its implementation, just days after the Mexican government stopped the recent ‘migrant caravan’, mostly comprised of Hondurans, from entering Mexican territory. Mexican authorities have reportedly deported more than 2,000 people to Honduras in just nine days.

Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, said:

“The uncertainty generated by the government’s contradictory statements regarding the prohibition of access to migrant detention centres for civil society organisations is very grave.

“The authorities must not jeopardize the lives and rights of thousands of people in need of protection who are detained in these places.

“This arbitrary decision by the National Institute of Migration hinders the fundamental work of legal assistance and verification of the situation of migrants and asylum seekers, and increases the vulnerability of these people, making clear the Mexican government’s intention to evade scrutiny of its compliance with its international obligations to protect human rights.

“The Mexican government should promptly provide clear information about the measures taken to protect the rights of migrants and asylum seekers, and publicly recognize the work of organizations that defend their rights, granting them immediate access to all migrant detention centres.”

Ill-treatment, overcrowding and inhumane detention conditions

For years, Amnesty has documented the Mexican authorities violating the human rights of people in need of protection, including violations of their right to seek asylum, through forced returns to their countries of origin, as well as prolonged detentions and the arrest of children in violation of Mexican law.

Migrant rights organisations in Mexico have repeatedly denounced the ill-treatment, overcrowding and inhumane detention conditions in migrant holding centres that impact on people’s physical and emotional wellbeing, as well as the harassment of asylum seekers aimed at making them abandon their appeals and accept deportation. The situation has not changed in this time.

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