*Video Derechos Cautivos, Sin Fronteras

On July 21st 2015, organizations in Mexico presented the report Derechos Cautivos (Captive Rights), which includes findings from their monitoring visits at seven immigration detention centers in Mexico. This is the first regional report on monitoring visits to immigration detention centers in the country, and it documents concerning national trends in the practice of depriving migrants of their personal freedom. These trends include: failure to provide migrants with the reasons for their detention, violation of the right to legal representation and violation of the right to request asylum, among others.

“As the title of this report implies, immigration detention isn’t simply a measure implemented by the National Migration Institute to deprive migrants of one of their rights, the right to freedom; rather, it is a measure that results in the ‘capture’ of all of their other rights that are violated before, during and after detention” –Prologue written by Elba Coria Márquez of the International Detention Coalition

The report includes statistics regarding the increased use of immigration detention, noting that in just the first months of 2015, 62,724 people were held in immigration detention. The report explains that this increase is related to implementation of Mexico’s Southern Border Program (el Programa Frontera Sur) and mass deportations to Central America.

Unfortunately, it seems political actors are hesitant to adopt or even consider the inclusion of alternatives to detention in their public policies. Alternatives such as custody and bail bonds already exist within national legislation as possible mechanisms to avoid unnecessary detention.

IDC members and partners have consistently recommended the development and implementation of alternatives to detention in Mexico in order to end unnecessary and often arbitrary immigration detention.

The five organizations that produced the report — the Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Matías de Córdova A.C., Dignidad y Justicia en el Camino A.C. (FM4 Paso Libre), Frontera con Justicia A.C. (Casa del Migante Saltillo), Instituto de Derechos Humanos Ignacio Ellacuría, S.J de la Universidad Iberoamericana Puebla and Sin Fronteras IAP— are clear in their objective:

“The objective of this report is to promote a shared political strategy that advocates for structural change in the rights, treatment and conditions of migrants and persons in need of international protection who are held in immigration detention, and also to promote development of alternatives to detention.”

Recommendations include ending immigration detention of children and utilizing detention as the exception rather than the rule, implementing non-custodial alternatives to detention instead.

“We continue to operate within an environment marked by the absence of alternatives to detention. This situation is particularly worrying when one takes into account the fact that migrants who travel clandestinely and are detained include children, pregnant women, people who do not speak Spanish, indigenous persons, trafficking and torture survivors, and people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex. Each of these individuals has specific needs that cannot be met by blanket policies or while in confinement.” – p. 28, Derechos Cautivos

Download the full report and other materials (in Spanish) at Derechos Cuativos.

Read more about monitoring places of immigration detention in this Practical Guide developed by IDC, the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)