Press Release

IACHR Expresses Concern over Mexico’s Southern Border Plan

June 10, 2015

Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses its concern over stepped-up actions reportedly being taken against migrant persons and those who defend their rights in Mexico since the Southern Border Plan (Plan Frontera Sur) was put into operation. In addition, information the Commission has received indicates that migrants and their defenders continue to be targets of attacks in Mexico.

According to the information received by the Commission, since the Southern Border Plan was set in motion, in July 2014, the authorities have stepped up actions against migrants and those who defend their rights, and security measures along Mexico’s southern border have increased. A gendarmerie made up of 5,000 Mexican Federal Police agents with military training has reportedly been established in Tapachula, Chiapas. In addition, new border control checkpoints have reportedly been set up and roundups increased. This is said to have led to an increase in the number of detentions and deportations of migrants since 2014. According to data collected by Mexico’s National Migration Institute (INM), 86,929 migrants were detained in 2013, and in 2014 the number was 127,149, an increase of 46 percent. In January and February 2014, the INM detained 14,612 migrants, and for the same period in 2015 it detained 28,862 migrants, an increase of around 98 percent.

The Commission also expresses its concern over information regarding alleged attacks and acts of intimidation directed against migrants and their defenders. In this context, the IACHR is concerned about the attacks reportedly suffered by individuals who work for a migrant organization called “La 72, Hogar-Refugio para Personas Migrantes,” who are beneficiaries of Precautionary Measure 273/11, granted by the IACHR on April 19, 2013.

In light of these developments, the Inter-American Commission reiterates that the State of Mexico must immediately and urgently adopt all necessary measures to guarantee the rights to life, physical integrity, and safety of migrants in transit through Mexico, as well as the rights of migrants’ human rights defenders. As it did in its report Human Rights of Migrants and Other Persons in the Context of Human Mobility in Mexico, the IACHR recognizes and appreciates the work done by human rights defenders and reiterates to the Mexican State the need to ensure safe conditions for those who defend the rights of migrants—especially in this case, given that the defenders who work at the shelter mentioned above are beneficiaries of IACHR precautionary measures currently in effect.

Moreover, the IACHR urges the State to implement international standards regarding the use of force in immigration control operations; investigate, on its own initiative, acts such as those described above; punish agents responsible for human rights violations; and provide reparation to the victims of these violations. The Commission reiterates the importance of the principle of exceptionality of immigration detention, as well as the prohibition on the detention of child migrants. In this regard, it again reiterates the recommendation it made to the State of Mexico concerning the need to implement alternatives to immigration detention. In terms of deportation proceedings, the Commission reaffirms the State’s need to observe due process guarantees and to guarantee the right to seek and receive asylum, the protection of the principle of non-return (non-refoulement), and the absolute prohibition of mass expulsions.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR 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. 065/15