Nine months after the National Guard launched tear gas, stones and used force to prevent hundreds of migrants from crossing guatemala into Mexico, the National Commission on Human Rights (CNDH) credited human rights violations to members of the caravan that entered the country in January.
When the events occurred, the Mexican government defended the Action of the National Guard to prevent the caravan from passing, rule out any incidents that violated its rights or any act of repression.
However, the agency found that on 20 and 23 January 2020, migrants trying to enter the country through the municipalities of Suchiate and Frontera Hidalgo, Chiapas, were assaulted with stones, tolets and shields by staff from the National Institute of Migration (INM) and the National Guard.
For these assaults against the members of the caravan, the agency issued a recommendation for the holder of the Ministry of Security, Alfonso Durazo, as well as for the commissioner of the INM, Francisco Garduño Yáñez.
It requested the Ministry of Security to repair the comprehensive harm to victims in coordination with the Executive Commission on Victim Care (CEAV).
Victims recounted that when they crossed the Suchiate River channel or walked in the company of their children on the federal road to Tapachula, elements of the INM and the National Guard threw stones at them and beat them with tolets and shields to prevent their entry into Mexican territory, then were arrested and transferred to a migration station by officials of both institutions.
«At approximately 4 p.m., we were on the road between Unión Hidalgo and Tapachula, Chiapas, in the company of my 1-year-old daughter when several elements of the National Guard encapsulated us as I was traveling with the caravan, was that they started to stop me and my daughter were sprayed with tear gas no matter what I had my daughter in my arms, who cried a lot because of the burning that we had in our face and body. It was that I ran with my daughter and later I was arrested…», narrates one of the victims.
According to the Commission, by allowing elements of the National Guard to carry out immigration review and detention functions in the context of mobility, the INM infringed the rights to the legality and legal certainty of five children, three adolescents and six adults.
Section 96 of the Migration Act states that «the authorities shall cooperate with the Institute for the exercise of its functions (…) without implying that they can independently carry out immigration control, verification and review functions.» Such ordering is exclusive to the INM.
In this sense, the National Guard has no powers to carry out the detention of foreigners even if they do not have the documentation to prove their legal stay in Mexico.
The deployment of the elements of the National Guard in the Suchiate River and the Border Bridge was intended to carry out the accompaniment, protection and security to the Migration Agents, however, according to the agency, the Guard was overreached in its actions.
In recommendation 50/2020, the CNDH also exhibits the omission of INM personnel who disinted that Public Servants of the National Guard perform tasks that by law mandate do not correspond to them.
The INM maintained that its staff at all times respected the human rights of caravan members and denied aggression.
People who filed complaints about violations of their rights gave their testimony, showed evidence of their injuries, and collected newspaper notes and videos showing the use of force during operations.
Government denied human rights violations
The CNDH investigation allowed for elements to establish government-denied human rights violations.
Following the events with the migrants in January, the governorship holder, Olga Sánchez Cordero, assured that the National Guard «was a guard who only ordered the migrants to enter our country», respecting human rights.
«Mexico is a country of asylum and refuge that protects migrants,» the secretary of the governorate said at the time.
On January 21, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador brazenly with migrants and their rights violated, despite videos and photographs published by media and human rights defenders, but days later he acknowledged that «isolated events» did occur.
During a morning conference he acknowledged that the National Guard, in some cases, has used force against migrants in theat the southern border, though he refused to commit excesses for their containment.
News agencies, the media and the CNDH’s own visitors were able to capture images of how they were chasing migrants and how they launched themselves and immobilized them to prevent them from achieving their journey.
Find out: Government says there were no incidents with migrants, but images show something else
After U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to impose tariffs on Mexico in May, Lopez Obrador’s administration tightened its immigration policy and deployed the National Guard to contain migrants, most of them Central American.
City organizations accused the federal government of criminalizing migration, and of under pressure from Trump.
President López Obrador, in his speeches, mentioned that the National Guard receives human rights training, and stressed that his government seeks to eradicate abuses by any security corporation.
We share images documenting assaults of elements of the @GN_MEXICO_ National Guard (@SSPCMexico) and @INAMI_mx, to people in the Migrant Caravan.
See statement: https://t.co/hk4kVVnidV
See Recommendation: https://t.co/WhhTzFEDsB#DefendemosAlPueblo pic.twitter.com/SDYWn4kZNP
— CNDH in Mexico (@CNDH) October 30, 2020
Repairing the damage
The CNDH requested the Ministry of Security, in coordination with the Executive Committee on Victim Care, to provide comprehensive reparation for the harm caused to victims, including fair and sufficient compensation. He also asks to enroll them in the National Register of Victims and provide them with medical and psychological care.
Also, assist in the follow-up to the complaint to the Internal Affairs Unit of the National Guard; design and implement a protocol of action that considers «the principles of absolute necessity, legality, prevention, proportionality and accountability and vigilance governing the use of force».
It also calls for the staff of the 21st National Guard Battalion to be given a course on human rights with an emphasis on respect for legal certainty, personal integrity and the best interests of children and adolescents, delimiting the functions that, by law mandate, they can perform by collaborating with the National Institute of Migration.
For the INM it is recommended to make the necessary steps to locate the victims of such assaults, to provide them with medical and psychological care, including the provision of medicines and their inclusion in the National Register of Victims.
In addition to giving commissioner staff in Chiapas a human rights course with an emphasis on the right to legal certainty to be governed by immigration reviews.
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