Press Release

IACHR urges the State to guarantee conditions of security in shelter for migrants in Mexico

August 2, 2012

Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses its concern over the circumstances that forced the closing down of the shelter for migrants San Juan Diego, in Lechería colony, Municipality of Tultitlán, State of México. The IACHR urges the authorities of the State of Mexico to adopt the necessary measures to ensure that the human rights defenders who operate the shelter may continue to work under conditions of security.

According to the information received by the IACHR, on July 7, 2012, episodes of unrest allegedly took place in the vicinity of the shelter for migrants San Juan Diego. Subsequently, the shelter was allegedly closed down as a result of pressure on the part of neighbors. The inhabitants of the area are also allegedly requesting that the tent temporarily installed in Independence colony to offer humanitarian assistance to migrants be also closed down.

The Commission had been receiving information on the existent tension in the vicinity of this shelter, which allegedly has capacity for 70 people but has sheltered up to 500. The information received included acts of harassment and threats by private persons against the staff and the migrants in this shelter.

The Commission urges the State to guarantee the security of migrants who reach out to the shelter and of the neighbors of this locality. In addition, the IACHR urges the State of Mexico to adopt and implement measures so that defenders of the rights of migrants may continue to develop their work under conditions of security.

After its visit to Mexico in 2011, the Office of the Rapporteur on the Rights of Migrants highlighted that “the shelters provide security, food and information to thousands of people who pass through Mexico every year. These individuals and organizations are performing a vital social service, filling a void that the State has left for many years.”

In this regard, Commissioner Felipe González, IACHR Rapporteur on the Rights of Migrants, expressed that “the Commission has knowledge of the importance of the work done by the shelter for migrants San Juan Diego. It is necessary that the State guarantees the conditions of security needed for this center to be able to reopen its doors. In addition, it is imperative that the authorities implement all the actions needed to prevent and fight any form of racial discrimination and of xenofobia, and to promote the understanding between the inhabitants of the State of Mexico and the migrants in transit through that State.

The IACHR also highlights that the work done by defenders of the rights of migrants is of fundamental interest in the entire region, because they protect the rights of persons from several countries in the continent. The Commisson reitarates that the acts of violence and other attacks perpetrated against human rights defenders not only affect the guarantees of any human being, but they also undermine the fundamental role that human rights defenders play in society and leave all those for whom they fight defenseless. In its "Second Report on the Situation of Human Rights defenders in the Americas," the Commission considered the defenders of the rights of migrants as a group in special situation of risk, due to the serios and multiple aggressions they suffer in retaliation of their activities.

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. 98/12