Press Release

IACHR Expresses Concern over Killing of Mexican Teenager by the US Border Patrol

October 23, 2012

Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses concern over the events that led to the death of the teenager José Antonio Elena Rodríguez, a Mexican national of 16 years of age, who was found dead after an incident with agents of the United States Border Patrol, close to the Mexico-US border.

According with the information available, on October 10, 2012, a Border Patrol officer opened fire towards Mexican territory and shot and killed José Antonio Elena Rodríguez in the vicinity of the fence along the international border between Nogales, Sonora, and Nogales, Arizona. The information received by the IACHR indicates that José Antonio Elena Rodríguez was unarmed.

The IACHR urges the United States to investigate this incident, particularly if the death of José Antonio Elena Rodríguez was a consequence of excesive use of force on the part of the Border Patrol, and to punish those who may be determined responsible.

Commissioner Felipe Gonzalez, Rapporteur on the Rights of Migrants at the IACHR, stated that: “regardless of immigration status, migrants, just like any other person, have human rights that all States have the obligation to respect and guarantee. Within any immigration control procedure, States are obliged to guarantee that their authorities respect the right to life and physical and psychological integrity of migrants, regardless of their immigration status.”

The Inter-American Commission observes with concern that this is the third case about which the Commission has received information in the last four months, where Mexican nationals allegedly died as a result of the use of lethal force by Border Patrol officers. The Border Patrol has said that in all cases, its officers acted in self defense to respond to atacks with stones. As expressed in its Report on Immigration in the United States: Detention and Due Process, the Commission considers as extremely serious the reports “of immigrants killed as they attempted to cross the border by immigration agents who resorted to an excessive and disproportionate use of force.”

The IACHR is a principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), which derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 126/12