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Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants Concludes Visit to Mexico

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15 March 2008


The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Jorge Bustamanta, issued the following statement on 15 March 2008:

United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Jorge Bustamante, concluded his seven-day visit to Mexico. The situation of migrants in Mexico and the ability of the Government to protect migrants’ rights is one of “contrasts,” Mr. Bustamante says, as he is encouraged by the State’s progress in institutionalizing programs to address the needs of migrants, but notes that there is much yet to be done.

During his visit, the Special Rapporteur held meetings with several governmental institutions in Mexico City, Tijuana and Tapachula. In the capital, the Special Rapporteur met with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of the Interior, the Under-Secretariat of Population, Migration and Religious Affairs, the Ministry of Labor, Security and Social Services, the Ministry of Public Security, and the National Institute of Migration. He also engaged in a dialogue with the Senate.

In Mexico City, as well as in the northern and southern border areas, the Special Rapporteur met with a variety of actors, including representatives of state government, the United Nations, the International Organization for Migration, the National Human Rights Commission, the Federal District Human Rights Commission, and diverse members of civil society, including defenders of the protection of migrants’ rights, and migrants themselves. The Special Rapporteur appreciates the support, both substantive and logistical, of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations in Mexico.

Among his concerns, the Special Rapporteur notes reports of rampant impunity for instances of corruption, including bribery and extortion, violence against women, and trafficking in children. The Special Rapporteur is concerned that the impunity seems to be linked to abuses of power at the municipal, state and federal levels.

The Special Rapporteur expresses dismay at the numerous abuses against migrants, especially those of Central American origin. He is particularly concerned about the alarming reports of child labor and notes that special attention to non-accompanied minor migrants seems to pose a particular challenge for the Government of Mexico.

Reports of violence against women, both during the migration process, as well as in their places of work, was a constant theme throughout the visit. Cases of rape, assault and abuses against workers in the domestic sphere were reported with abundance. Attention to the health of migrants, both physical and psychological, seems to be of utmost urgency, the Special Rapporteur noted during his visit.

In a visit to Tapachula and surrounding areas in the southern border region, while noting the Government’s numerous efforts to systematize protection into their border control and detention procedures and welcomes the efforts by local agencies to attend to the needs of minor migrants, the Special Rapporteur is concerned about the ability to combat organized crime networks which are contributing to the abuses.

The Special Rapporteur is encouraged by the Government of Mexico’s advances with regard to the protection of migrant workers, but notes that there are many gaps in implementation in harmonizing national laws and policies with the obligations set forth under the International Convention on the Protection of All Migrant Workers and their Families. As such, he calls on the Mexican Government to accept the competency of the Committee on Migrant Workers to receive individual complaints, and urges the Senate to move forward with the long-awaited reform of the General Population Act.

The Special Rapporteur will present a report of the situation of the human rights of migrants in Mexico to the United Nations Human Rights Council.