Posted on February 11, 2005

Mexico Violates Migrants’ Rights, Soberanes Says

El Universal (Mexico City), Feb 8

The nation’s human rights ombudsman said Tuesday that Mexico is guilty of abuses toward undocumented migrants bound for the United States, contradicting the recent positive appraisal by a U.N. official.

“Examinations of immigration facilities reveal that some of those installations display anomalies that are so serious they constitute an open assault on the dignity and fundamental human rights of the people held there,” said a statement from the Human Rights Commission, or CNDH.

That agency, headed by José Luis Soberanes, said its view differs from a recent upbeat assessment of the treatment of migrants in Mexico offered by the U.N. special rapporteur for immigrants’ rights, Gabriela Rodríguez Pizarro.

The government has recently built detention centers for the thousands of undocumented travelers from Central and South America apprehended annually while crossing this country to reach the United States. The largest facilities are located near Mexico City and at Tapachula, a town in the southern border state of Chiapas.

The CNDH reported discovering cases where detainees are compelled to “eat, sleep and relieve themselves in the same environment” and finding that “most of the detention stations lack beds or sleeping quarters.”

Some of the centers, the agency added, have no running water in their bathrooms, suffer from “serious overcrowding and sometimes lodge unaccompanied minors with adults,” posing a potential risk to the youngsters’s safety.

Also lacking are female officers to guard women and girls, medical services and separate areas to house people who present symptoms of infectious illnesses, the CNDH said.

In addition, Soberanes’s office criticized immigration officials for often failing to make the required notifications to the respective consulates about the immigrants being held.

“Frequently, those in charge of the migration stations are ignorant of applicable norms and lack procedural manuals as well as instruction in providing medical and social services,” the CNDH said.