| Mar 20, 2020
The right to defend the rights of migrants
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, in its recent Resolution 04/19 of December 7, 2019, issued the Inter-American Principles on the Human Rights of All Migrants, Refugees, Stateless Persons and Victims of Trafficking in Persons, which require OAS member states to ensure "the availability of independent and autonomous monitoring mechanisms, as well as to authorize access by civil society organizations and international bodies to detention centers, in order to monitor detention conditions and guarantee even access to all facilities in places of deprivation of liberty; access to information and documentation relating to the establishment and persons deprived of liberty; and the possibility of conducting private and confidential interviews with persons deprived of liberty and staff".
Also various UN bodies, such as the Committee against Torture, the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the Special Rapporteur on Torture, the Special Rapporteur on Migrants and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, have insisted on the need for all migrant detention centres to be permanently monitored by civil society, for their preventive effect on human rights violations against persons in detention.
During 2019, a multitude of irregularities and human rights violations took place inside the Migrant Station (MS) SXXI, such as extreme overcrowding of the center, serious health and hygiene problems, attempts to escape and riots repressed by force, suicide attempts and even the death in isolation of a person of Haitian nationality. Many of these incidents were publicly reported by human rights organizations such as the Fray Matias HRC, also to the CNDH or the Internal Control Body of the National Institute of Migration (INM).
Accompaniment to the Fray Matías de Córdova human rights centre during the complaint to the INM for preventing him from defending human rights in the Tapachula detention centre.
The Fray Matias Human Rights Centre has been monitoring migrant detention centres for more than 20 years, and in particular has worked within the Siglo XXI MS since its opening in 2006, defending thousands of people during this period through legal advice, legal representation and psychosocial accompaniment.
In November 2019, the National Institute of Migration (INM) denied the annual renewal of the authorization to access the Siglo XXI MS for the purpose of monitoring human rights and defending detainees. Also on 13 January, the INM's General Directorate of Migration Control and Verification issued a letter notifying that the permit was denied, under the argument that "members [of the Fray Matias HRC] have incurred in unprofessional conduct by entering unauthorized spaces, providing untruthful information that confuses foreigners, in addition to not respecting the established schedules for their visits. ”
During the accompaniment it was requested:
- That they avoid discrediting the human rights defence work of the Fray Matias HRC, and that they immediately re-authorise their capacity to access the Siglo XXI Migratory Station, respecting their right to defend their rights, and above all the right of the detained persons to have contact with the outside world and to have legal, psychosocial and humanitarian accompaniment.
- That the conditions of access for civil society organizations that monitor the migrant detention centres be improved in general, by expediting authorizations, offering adequate spaces for work and contact with the detained persons, and guaranteeing privacy and confidentiality.
- That the right of all persons to move freely and obtain international protection be recognized, and that migration control policies based on the detention and deportation of hundreds of thousands of people be dismantled as a widespread response.