From September 28 to October 2, 2015, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) conducted an on-site visit to Mexico in order to observe the country’s current human rights situation. During the visit, the Commission traveled to different parts of Mexico to meet with civil society representatives, government officials, academics, reporters and other community members, as well as to collect testimonies from victims of human rights violations.
Upon completing the visit, the Commission confirmed that Mexico is facing a “serious human rights crisis […] characterized by a situation of extreme insecurity and violence.” The Commission emphasized that for migrants and other vulnerable groups, the effects of the violence and human rights violations are especially serious and disproportionate.
As part of their preliminary observations, the IACHR expressed concern regarding a 67% increase in immigration detention from 2013 to date. According to the Mexican government’s own statistics, 86,929 people were held in immigration detention centers in 2013, increasing to 127,149 people in 2014; and it just the first five months of 2015, 80,688 people were detained for immigration purposes. These numbers include detention of asylum seekers, children and other vulnerable persons.
The IACHR reiterated that in addition to frequently violating the right to personal freedom, immigration detention also tends to lead to other human rights violations, such as the right to request asylum and international protection, the right to due process, among others.
“The arrest and expedited deportation of migrants represent an obstacle to their access to the procedure for determining refugee status.” –IACHR, Preliminary observations from the on-site visit to Mexico
Disappointingly, the Mexican government’s immediate response to the IACHR’s observations has been to reject them, insisting that they do not reflect the country’s reality. Dismayed, civil society organizations and other human rights advocates, many of whom are IDC members and partners, released a joint statement to call attention to how the federal government was yet again denying the severity of the country’s current situation.
“If the federal government really wants to ‘open doors and take on challenges’ related to human rights, the first step is to stop disqualifying expert bodies and individuals who document the country’s reality.” –Mexican civil society joint statement (unofficial translation)