Press Release

IACHR and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons Welcome Decision for the protection of internally displaced persons in Mexico

April 17, 2019

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, welcome the decision of the Tenth Collegiate Criminal Court of the First Circuit, which confirms that internally displaced persons (IDPs) are victims under the framework of the Victims’ Law and that he Executive Committee for the Attention of Victims (CEAV) has the faculty to grant this status. The IACHR and the UN Special Rapporteur urge the Mexican State to implement the sentence and take adequate measures on internal displacement aimed at prevention, protection and assistance, as well as durable solutions for IDPs in conditions of dignity and security.

According to publicly available information, on October 25, 2018, the Tenth Collegiate Criminal Court of the First Circuit resolved the amparo in revision 208/2018 on the refusal of the CEAV to recognize as victims of internal displacement a family, originally from Chihuahua, who claimed to be victims of internal displacement due to violence from organized crime. The court recognized that internal displacement is a violation of human rights and that IDPs often face various obstacles such as lack of documentation or issues exercising their rights including to an effective remedy, as they may not be able to appear in trials that take place in states other than the one where they have taken refuge. It also acknowledged that IDPs have medical, psychological, legal and social work-related needs, since displacement usually involves the loss of employment, housing and education. In this sense, the court decided that the CEAV is an institution (among others) that must grant the quality of victim to a person who has been displaced, as well as guarantee that they can access assistance and gain immediate attention.

“The fact that the CEAV has the faculty to grant the status of victims to IDPs is fundamental in guaranteeing the enjoyment of the human rights by the thousands of displaced persons in Mexico. Especially due to the great gaps that the Mexican State has on this issue; as of today, at the federal level the State has formally included IDPs in its Victims Law, but it has not yet developed and adopted specific laws or public policies to address it, "said Commissioner Luis Ernesto Vargas Silva, Rapporteur on the Rights of Migrants of the IACHR.

“This decision is essential in raising awareness about the plight of internally displaced people in Mexico, who are very often highly vulnerable, and in need of protection and assistance that is the primary responsibility of the Mexican state to provide” said the UN Special Rapporteur. “Moreover, this sentence proves yet again the fundamental role that judicial authorities can play in the protection of the human rights of displaced persons” added Ms. Jimenez-Damary.

The IACHR and the UN Special Rapporteur reiterate their concern about the situation of internal displacement in Mexico. In this regard, they emphasize that the 1998 Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, which constitute the key international standard on the subject and restate the rights of IDPs as enshrined in international human rights and international humanitarian law, define IDPs as “persons or groups of persons who have been forced or obliged to flee or to leave their homes or places of habitual residence, in particular as a result of or in order to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalized violence, violations of human rights, or natural or human-made disasters and who have not crossed an internationally recognized State border”. The Mexican Commission for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights estimates that by the end of 2017, there were 329,917 IDPs due to insecurity and violence. Despite this situation, internal displacement has only been recognized at the federal level in its Victims Law, without putting in place adequate and comprehensive measures to fully address internal displacement in the country. 

In line with the recommendations in its reports Human Rights of Migrants and Other Persons in the Context of Human Mobility in Mexico (2014) and Situation of Human Rights in Mexico (2015), the IACHR and the Special Rapporteur urge the State of Mexico to recognize the phenomenon of internal displacement, conduct an assessment of the situation, and collect data on the different manifestations of this problem in Mexico. Likewise, the IACHR and the Special Rapporteur urge the State to develop and implement specific laws and public policies aimed to prevent arbitrary internal displacement and to guarantee protection, assistance, and sustainable durable solutions for the internally displaced, in accordance with the international human rights obligations entered into by the Mexican State and the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement. Such normative frameworks should also identify an institutional focal point on internal displacement to oversee their implementation, allocate clear roles and responsibilities, and facilitate coordination with other governmental and non-governmental partners, including the National Commission on Human Rights and civil society organizations. Finally, the Commission and the Special Rapporteur also stressed the importance for the State to ensure that such public policies are backed with sufficient resources to be implemented.

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 and to defend 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. 100/19