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Committee on the Rights of Migrant Workers considers the situation in Guatemala

Committee on Rights of Migrant Workers

3 April 2019

The Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families today concluded its consideration of the second periodic report of Guatemala on measures taken to implement the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

Introducing the report, Jorge Luis Borrayo Reyes, President of the Presidential Commission for the Coordination of Executive Policy on Human Rights of Guatemala, said that the recently enacted Migration Code recognized the rights of migrant workers and their families and contributed to the reduction and prevention of irregular migration of Guatemalan citizens.  It provided for the establishment of inter-institutional mechanisms, such as the National Migration Authority, the National Migration Institute, and the National Migration Council.  In 2018, a total of 18,118 Guatemalan workers had been recruited to work in Canada and Mexico, the majority of them men, and had received booklets on migration prepared by the Government.  Bilateral labour agreements had been signed with Mexico and Belize, while a call centre for Guatemalan migrants abroad had been operational since 2016.  The National Migration Council had defined four projects to be implemented in 2019, including to develop national incentives to prevent irregular migration.  The “Community Roots” project, which aimed to reduce violence, crime and irregular migration, was being implemented in 12 municipalities and 80 communities.  As for the Migrant Caravan, the mass irregular migration through Guatemala, the country had decided to pay greater attention to the security and health of vulnerable groups, especially of unaccompanied girls, boys and adolescents, pregnant women, and the elderly.  

In the discussion that followed, Committee Experts welcomed the efforts by Guatemala to improve the situation in the country and eliminate the factors that pushed the ever increasing number of people into migration, especially poverty and gang violence.  Everyone had the right to migrate, they stressed and raised concern about the structural vulnerability of indigenous peoples to exploitation and violence in the context of migration.  They wanted to hear more about programmes in place to prepare persons prior to migrating, including by providing information on how to access justice and file complaints for rights violations in their countries of destination.  The Experts stressed the huge potential of remittances, that grew at the rate of $1 billion per year, to improve the living standards and well-being of the families and the economic and social development of the country; they urged Guatemala to prevent the maras from laying their hands on those resources and ensure that they were not being used to pay off corrupt officials.  The management of borders in the context of migration was an issue of concern, specifically the extortion of migrants by border officials and the use of force in dealing with migrant flows.  It was important to prevent the use of force and establish accountability for its use in the context of migration, and to adopt specific measures to guarantee access to justice for migrants, the Experts stressed.

In her concluding remarks, Maria Landazuri De Mora, Committee Co-Rapporteur for Guatemala, said that the new Migration Institute was set to become an agency that changed the migration paradigm and could become a true migration governance body.  It must become an open door institution for civil society organizations, whose involvement and participation was essential to leave behind the security and police-based approach and to breathe life into policies that looked wonderful on paper.

Alvaro Botero Navarro, Committee Co-Rapporteur for Guatemala, in conclusion urged Guatemala to continue the efforts to address the mass mixed migration phenomena and pay particular attention to tackle the causes of migration, provide resources for humanitarian assistance during transit, assist the vulnerable among the migrants, and provide durable solutions compatible with human dignity. 

Mr. Borrayo Reyes, for his part, recognized that Guatemala still had a lot to do to comply with its obligations under the Convention and stressed that the ongoing institutional change would contribute to this process.

Ahmadou Tall, Committee Chairperson, thanked the delegation for the high-level dialogue which enabled the Committee to better understand the situation of migrant workers in Guatemala and Guatemalan workers abroad, and urged Guatemala to continue to promote the Convention.  

The delegation of Guatemala consisted of representatives of the Presidential Commission for the Coordination of Executive Policy on Human Rights, Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Government, Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance, Ministry of the Economy, National Migration Council, National Migration Institute, General Directorate for Migration, National Institute of Forensic Sciences, Secretariat of Social Work of the Wife of the President, Secretariat for Social Wellbeing, and the Permanent Mission of Guatemala to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The Committee will issue the concluding observations on the report of Guatemala at the end of its thirtieth session on 12 April.  Those, and other documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, can be found on the session’s webpage .  The webcast of the Committee’s public meetings can be accessed at http://webtv.un.org/ .

The Committee will next meet in public at 3.15 p.m. this afternoon to review the second periodic report of Tajikistan (CMW/C/TJK/2 ).

Report

The second periodic report of Guatemala can be read here: CMW/C/GTM/2 .

Presentation of the Report

JORGE LUIS BORRAYO REYES, President of the Presidential Commission for the Coordination of Executive Policy on Human Rights of Guatemala, noted that the Migration Code recognized the rights of migrant workers and their families, and contributed to the reduction and prevention of irregular migration of Guatemalan citizens through the establishment of inter-institutional mechanisms, such as the National Migration Authority, the National Migration Institute, and the National Migration Council.  The Government had passed four specific directives and five more were in the process of adoption in order to achieve the transition from the General Migration Directorate to the National Migration Institute, which would last two years.  When it came to progress in terms of bilateral and multilateral agreements, Guatemala had signed labour agreements with Mexico and Belize and had held meetings with Mexico, El Salvador and Honduras.  Among other relevant actions in 2018, Mr. Borrayo Reyes underlined the fact that the Government had published and distributed 6,000 booklets to Guatemalans travelling for temporary labour to Canada, and 2,000 booklets to those travelling to work in southern Mexico.  Since 2016, the authorities had operated a call centre for Guatemalan migrants abroad in order to provide them with efficient and dignified services.  Guatemala recognized the right to migration and prohibited the detention of girls, boys and adolescents, whether they travelled accompanied or unaccompanied.  In the case of unaccompanied minors, specialized institutions verified the existence of any abuse of their rights.  The National Protocol for the Reception and Care for Migrant Children and Adolescents stipulated a series of measures for their protection and the Protocol for the Care for Female Migrants in Vulnerable Situations was in place. 

In 2018, a total of 18,118 Guatemalan workers had been recruited to work in Canada and Mexico, the majority of them men.  In order to guarantee the rights of migrant workers, the Ministry of Labour and Social Assistance had for the first time implemented a process of recruitment for workers going to Canada and the Ministry of Economy was promoting the programme entitled “Go Forth Migrants”.  The “Community Roots” project aimed to reduce violence, crime and irregular migration; it was implemented in 12 municipalities and 80 communities by the Ministry of Administration, in cooperation with civil society and the United States Agency for International Development.  The Migration Code guaranteed access to specialized services, including access to justice for migrant victims of human trafficking.  Guatemala had led the technical secretariat of the regional coalition against trafficking in persons during the 2016 to 2018 period and the Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance had 42 specialized clinics that provided comprehensive services to victims of trafficking.  Between January and November 2018, the authorities had registered 229 complaints of trafficking in persons.  Guatemala had become a corridor for migrants, especially those from Central America, and the National Institute of Forensic Sciences frequently received the remains of unidentified persons; a manual for their identification had been developed.

The National Migration Council had defined four projects to be implemented in 2019 in order to consolidate medical, psychological, transport and temporary accommodation services to Guatemalan migrants abroad, as well as to develop national incentives to prevent irregular migration, Mr. Borrayo Reyes noted.  Following the terrible events at the care home Hogar Seguro Virgen de la Asuncion in March 2017, the authorities had transformed the model of care for girls, boys and adolescents, and they had provided remedies to 15 survivors.  Turning to the massive irregular migration which had taken place on the Guatemalan territory – the so-called Migrant Caravan – between October 2018 and January 2019, Mr. Borrayo Reyes noted that the Government of Guatemala had decided that it had to pay greater attention to the security and health of vulnerable groups, especially of unaccompanied girls, boys and adolescents, pregnant women, and the elderly.  As a result of meetings between leaders of Guatemala and Honduras, a number of Honduran citizens had returned voluntarily.  At the same time, high-level coordination activities were taking place between the Governments of Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador to address the situation, discourage irregular migration, and respect the human rights of migrants and their families.  An initiative of Central American countries had been presented in order to set up a massive migration movements alert protocol. 

Questions by the Committee Experts

MARIA LANDAZURI DE MORA, Committee Co-Rapporteur for Guatemala, welcomed the institutional reforms and bodies set up to defend the rights of migrants and asked the delegation to explain how the transition from the old Migration Directorate to the Institute for Migration would take place.  What were the opportunities for civil society to cooperate with the State in the management of migration issues? 

What was the number of disappeared persons in Guatemala, and the number of Guatemalans abroad?  The Committee was aware of at least 200 Guatemalans who had disappeared, Ms. Landazuri de Mora reminded.

What actions had the State party taken to prevent the forced migration of indigenous peoples and to counter the extortion of migrants by criminal gangs (maras)?

The Co-Rapporteur further inquired about the return of Guatemalans, asking specifically about measures taken to ensure that the rights of migrant Guatemalan women and children were preserved, especially those who had been exploited.

ALVARO BOTERO NAVARRO, Committee Co-Rapporteur for Guatemala, recalled the need to analyse the structural reasons that pushed thousands of people to migrate from Central America and called attention to the recent statement of the United States President Donald Trump that he would cut off aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras because of migrants.  Mr. Botero Navarro inquired about the measures that Guatemala was taking to counter the extortion of migrants by border police and the administrative measures taken to sanction public officials for such acts.  Were there any statistics on such measures?

A human rights-based approach to migration should take precedence over the public security approach, he said and asked about the system in place to avoid the detention of migrants and about the mandate of police officers vis-à-vis migration.  The main approach to the so-called Migrant Caravan was return, he noted. 

Did the State party have any safeguards to ensure access to justice for migrants?  What measures had been adopted to criminalize hate speech and incitement to violence against migrants and other vulnerable groups?  What measures had the authorities taken to address the various driving factors of migration?   

Finally, Mr. Botero Navarro asked how the principle of non-refoulement was safeguarded in the recently signed memorandum of understanding between the United States, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

Another Expert noted that many Guatemalans lived in Canada and the United States and that the two countries were not parties to the Convention.  In this context, the Expert stressed Guatemala’s obligation to assume a special responsibility to safeguard the rights of its migrant workers in the countries that had not ratified the Convention and welcomed the creation of the itinerant consulates.  Were the consular authorities able to initiate legal proceedings, including the filing of collective complaints, to assert the rights of nationals abroad when they were unable to do so?

What institution monitored human rights violations in the context of migration?  Had Guatemala adopted a law to prevent discrimination against women and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons?

What measures were in place to ensure the safe transmission of remittances to migrants’ families?  What kinds of benefits did the State provide for remittances?  Were they fully incorporated in the banking system? 

The Experts observed that the detention of migrants should be communicated to consular offices and asked about the process and the institutions involved in coordination with Mexico, El Salvador and Honduras in that respect.

Replies by the Delegation

JORGE LUIS BORRAYO REYES, President of the Presidential Commission for the Coordination of Executive Policy on Human Rights of Guatemala, clarified that the Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued cautionary measures for groups whose rights were violated, adding that Guatemala had been strictly abiding by those measures when it came to indigenous peoples.  Indigenous peoples could be evicted only upon relevant court orders and in order to protect certain natural areas.  Guatemala should have access to relevant resources to preserve the areas of natural environment, Mr. Borrayo Reyes noted.

In terms of measures to prevent hate speech and incitement to violence against migrants, Mr. Borrayo Reyes informed that Guatemala had worked with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in that respect. 

Speaking of the inter-institutional cooperation in the field of migration, the delegation reminded that the Migration Code had been in force since May 2017.  The national migration system comprised the National Migration Authority, the National Migration Institute, and the National Migration Council.  Its mission was to ensure that the right to migration was properly safeguarded, and to coordinate all national efforts to address all the needs of migrants.  The transition from the General Migration Directorate to the National Migration Institute was supposed to be a gradual process. 

On the protection of Guatemalan migrant workers abroad, the delegation informed that Guatemala operated 11 consular offices in Mexico, 19 in the United States, and one in Canada.  In addition, the so-called “consular offices on wheels” operated in the cities where there were no Guatemalan consular offices.  The Government worked with civil society and businesses in order to provide assistance to the Guatemalans coming back home and to those living abroad.              

With respect to the extortion of migrants by police officers, the delegation said that it had information about very few cases.  One known case concerned the Guatemalan police officers charging Cuban migrants $ 5 per head; it was currently under investigation.  There were several shelters for migrants in the country and the Government maintained the communication between them and various Government and non-governmental organizations.  The civil national police did not have a mandate on migration affairs; they were only mandated to identify migrants. 

The so-called “Community Roots” project in 12 municipalities and 80 communities aimed to coordinate preventative actions of municipal authorities and civil society in order to offset irregular migration.  Guatemala had strengthened labour mobility, namely through regulating the work of recruitment agencies and campaigns to prevent scams.  The authorities were also working on the border areas with Mexico to register all migrant workers crossing over to Mexico, and they worked to promote the labour insertion of returning Guatemalan migrant workers.     

In an effort to reduce poverty, the Ministry of Economy had developed a policy of inclusive development by improving the dynamism and competitiveness of the national economy.  The policy focused on providing access to credit to micro, small and medium-size businesses.  The remittances sent back by Guatemalan migrant workers amounted to $ 9 billion and they were not taxed.  The cash transfers could not exceed $ 3,000.

The delegation reminded that Guatemala had 42 different types of clinics to provide psychological support to the victims of sexual violence.  Over the past five years, there had been 19 cases of such violence.  There was a national protocol for the provision of assistance to unaccompanied minors.  All State bodies dealing with child protection were involved in that process. 

The National Migration Council had been set up in October 2008.  In 2019, it planned to carry out activities to ensure better analysis of the migration phenomenon in the country, and to strengthen the migration institutional framework.  When it came to assistance to Guatemalans abroad, there was strengthened coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.     

Follow-up Questions by the Committee Experts
    
MARIA LANDAZURI DE MORA, Committee Vice-Chairperson and Country Co-Rapporteur for Guatemala, asked about the procedures to protect the right to family unity of Guatemalans in the United States.  She stressed the importance of countering hate speech against migrants. 

Ms. Landazuri de Mora further inquired about the State party’s meetings with the Mexican migration authorities in order to try to manage the flow of migrants while respecting their rights.  Massive migratory movements were often the result of extortion and organized crime.  What contingency plans did Guatemala have in order to guarantee the rights of migrants? 

ALVARO BOTERO NAVARRO, Committee Rapporteur and Country Co-Rapporteur for Guatemala, asked for more detailed information about disappeared migrants, and about the exchange of information between countries in the region.  What was the number of disappeared Guatemalans?  How did the State party ensure the return of unaccompanied minors? 

Noting that the mass mixed migration affecting Central American countries would continue, Mr. Botero Navarro said that it was necessary to analyze the structural causes of migration, particularly forced migration; to consider the provision of humanitarian assistance to migrants, as well as protection measures after displacement; and to find lasting solutions.  To what extent did the State party consider establishing orderly, safe and regular migration? 

How many people had requested asylum and refugee status in Guatemala in the past five years?  How many Guatemalan families had been separated and how many had benefited from the State party’s assistance?  What measures did Guatemala plan to investigate crimes against migrants?    

An Expert asked the delegation to clarify Guatemala’s sub-regional diplomacy attempts in order to manage migration.  Had the State party thought of cutting the cost of sending remittances?   

How many cases had Guatemalan lawyers filed in the pursuit of transnational justice for Guatemalan migrant workers, and what was their success rate?  Did the State party plan to sign further bilateral agreements to facilitate labour migration?

Replies by the Delegation

The delegation reiterated that Guatemala was a pro-human rights country whose Constitution stipulated equality of all before the law; there was no official policy of discrimination against migrants.  The police force was trained in the human rights based approach to migration and no migrant was forced to return to their country of origin.

Turning to the evictions of indigenous communities in Laguna Larga, the delegation recognized that those had caught the attention of the international community and had prompted the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights to issue a protection order for the individuals.  In February 2019, the Government had ordered a purchase of land to settle the individuals expelled from their historic traditional land.

The Migrant Caravan, the delegation continued, was an unprecedented migration phenomenon.  All government agencies had acted responsibly to deal with the Caravan and 36 such agencies had coordinated the implementation of the care, security and assistance protocols, both domestically and with neighbouring countries.  The phenomenon exceeded the institutional capacities of Guatemala, a delegate recognized and stressed that the coordination and communication with agencies from countries in the Northern Triangle was regular and productive.  A regional migration policy and protocol for the care of persons involved in irregular migration had been developed and there was collaboration with international agencies such as the United Nations Refugee Agency and the International Organization for Migration.

In terms of care for people coming and going to El Salvador, Nicaragua and Mexico, the delegation elaborated on actions taken to provide security on the road and the care services available to the most vulnerable migrants.  The delegation stressed that what happened at the borders of other countries was a matter of national sovereignty of those countries and said that Mexico had provided for the issuing of humanitarian visas through its consulates in the Northern Triangle countries.

As a result of the zero tolerance policy in the United States which had seen the separation of minors from their families, 6,496 Guatemalan children had been separated from their families.  They had been cared for by the Guatemalan consular services in the United States; of those, 90 per cent had been reunited with families and relatives in the United States, five per cent had been reunited with families in Guatemala, and for the remaining five per cent the reunification process was still ongoing.

The Alliance for Prosperity was a programme to support migrant workers destined for the United States; several projects were embedded within the plan and were entirely funded by Guatemala which meant that any cuts in foreign aid would not have an impact.

The Regional Conference on Migration brought together 11 countries to develop regional policy to support migrants and there was a proposal for a national migration policy that brought together all relevant agencies in Guatemala.  An example of good regional cooperation was a programme of cooperation on consular services in which Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico participated.  Under this programme, the nationals of those countries could seek consular services of any of those countries if their own consulates were not present.  For example, most Guatemalan migrant workers migrated to the United States where Guatemala had 19 general consulates; in other countries, they could address themselves to a consulate of any of the participating countries.

On the implementation of the principle of the best interest of the child in relation to foreign children, the delegation mentioned the cooperation mechanisms between different national institutions which allowed a case-by-case approach to each unaccompanied foreign child.  A guideline for the implementation of this principle had been put in place and proposed durable solutions.  The multi-disciplinary team examined each case to establish the identity of the child, her or his legal status, and define appropriate child protection and international protection measures, as well as possibilities of family reunification.

A search mechanism for disappeared persons had been established and the National Institute for Forensic Science was working to identify remains of foreigners who died in Guatemala as well as the Guatemalans who died or had been reported as disappeared abroad.  The delegation stressed the importance of the Committee’s scientific and technical support in terms of improving the capacity of Guatemala to improve the treatment of migrants.

Questions by Committee Experts

In the next round of questions, Committee Experts asked the delegation to explain the management of the borders in the context of migration and to ensure that migrants were provided with appropriate assistance, especially for children left alone.  The Experts stressed the role of the police and armed forces in the management of trafficking in persons and asked about the process in place to identify the victims and provide them with appropriate assistance.

MARIA LANDAZURI DE MORA, Committee Co-Rapporteur for Guatemala, welcomed the efforts by Guatemala to improve the situation in the country and so reduce the motivation for migration and asked about programmes in place to prepare persons prior to migrating, especially indigenous peoples who were most vulnerable to exploitation since many did not speak Spanish and did not know how to address complaints of rights violations.  The Co-Rapporteur stressed the obligation of States parties to the Convention to ensure that migrant workers could access justice and in this context she asked the delegation to outline the system in place, for example whether there were lawyers specialized in migration law and the Convention or prosecution units dealing with complaints of migrant workers in Guatemala.  

ALVARO BOTERO NAVARRO, Committee Co-Rapporteur for Guatemala, asked the delegation to comment on the reasons and push factors that led to the important increase in the number of Guatemalans who migrated to other countries in the region and what was being done to tackle the underlying causes of the phenomenon.  The Co-Rapporteur asked about the mechanism in place to ensure that the security forces, in dealing with migrant flows, used force only as a last resort and that the use of force was proportional and non-discriminatory.  What was being done to guarantee that persons who entered Guatemala irregularly were not detained and punished and to ensure that the principle of non-refoulement was always applied?

Other Experts stressed the importance of the country’s commitment to the harmonization of domestic laws with the Convention, which was not an easy process, and asked about the training and capacity-building of State officials, the judiciary, law enforcement officers, and the media on a human rights based approach to migration and on the provisions of the Convention.  How were the Convention and the Committee’s concluding observations disseminated in the country?  

On remittances, the Experts commended the Two for One Programme and wondered whether it was a Guatemalan version of the Three for One Programme that Mexico had put in place to innovatively manage remittances collectively.  What was the quantity of remittances sent to Guatemala by its migrant workers? 

Was there a temporary emergency repatriation fund for Guatemalans abroad who were seriously ill or whose lives were threatened, as well as for the repatriation of remains to the country?  Guatemala, together with Mexico, made up the main corridor for irregular migration to the United States.  Many people on this journey spent considerable time in Mexico, which for some was a trying experience.  What protocols and systems were in place to manage populations in transit and especially care for migrant children?  
  
Replies by the Delegation

The delegation addressed questions on the eviction of indigenous communities from their traditional areas and explained that the National Council of Protective Areas had the responsibility to ensure the management and protection of the areas declared as areas of environmental concern.  Since the passage of the law on environmental protection, some populations had moved into those protected areas illegally.  Consequently, a judicial order for their eviction had been issued and a number of national agencies had been involved in the process to make sure that the human rights of the individuals were not violated and that the required services were provided to the communities in question.  This event was not related to domestic or international migration in any way, the delegation said.

As far as the implementation of procedures enshrined in the Migration Code was concerned, the delegation said that the Council for Assistance and Protection would be working on the protection and care of the rights of migrants.  The regulations on visas, residency, and on the protection of refugee status had been published and would be implemented as of 20 April 2019.  Further provisions related to the Migration Institute were being developed, for example in the area of human resources and financial management.

Responding to Experts’ questions on unaccompanied migrant children, the delegation said that Guatemala was in regular communication with El Salvador and Honduras – the countries most affected – and provided care for the children and worked with their countries of origin on repatriation and family reunification.

More than 2,000 persons had entered the country unlawfully; the majority were Cuban and administrative sanctions had been issued.  The majority were persons in transit who were moving to Mexico and the United States and did not want to stay in Guatemala.  The principle of non-refoulement was guaranteed.

Guatemala was very aware of the reasons that were said to cause migration and was working together with global stakeholders to address them; it had also put in place several State policies to deal with specific causes of migration.  The profile of Guatemalan migrants was different from others in the region and most were indigenous persons from the west of the country where there was the lowest indices of violence and other forms of harassment.  Another reason pushing the people to migrate was the search for better livelihoods.  The causes of migration were changing constantly, the delegate said, noting that recently many were motivated by family reunification or by automatic emergency residence for unaccompanied minors in the United States, which was not true.

The repatriation fund and protocol was in place and accessible to migrants.  Guatemala had 19 consulates in the United States which were staffed with lawyers, including specialists in labour and migration matters; all consulates cooperated with specialized State agencies which provided professional and expert support on relevant issues.  The labour law, which would regularize recruitment agencies, was being finalized and its enactment was expected in three to five months.  Recruitment agencies were duty bound to guarantee the labour and human rights of migrant workers they recruited, including their medical and repatriation insurance.

The National Migration Council had offices in all the departments of the country affected by the Migrant Caravan and was actively working on training the local authorities on human rights based approaches to the management of migratory flows.

The Two for One Programme was indeed inspired by the Mexican model and while adapted to the Guatemalan conditions it shared the objective of generating greater employment opportunities and increasing incomes in communities; the programme welcomed the participation of migrant clubs from abroad.  It was expected that the total in remittances would reach $ 9 billion in 2019, an eight per cent increase to 2018.

Concluding Remarks

MARIA LANDAZURI DE MORA, Committee Co-Rapporteur for Guatemala, said that the dialogue had enabled the Committee to identify the outstanding challenges in the country and said that the ongoing institutional transition was critical.  The new Migration Institute was set to become an agency that changed the migration paradigm and the Government’s support to achieve this goal was paramount.  The Migration Institute must be an open door institution for civil society organizations whose involvement and participation was essential to leave behind the security and police-based approach and ensure that the Institute became a true migration governance body.  The migrant caravans would continue and Guatemala should pursue the coordination with other countries of the human rights based management of mass migratory flows. 

The Committee recognized the growing challenge of protecting not only the Guatemalan migrants but of the increasing the number of other nationals migrating through the country, including to investigate and prosecute disappearances, identify disappeared persons, and provide remedies to families.  The Co-Rapporteur stressed the huge potential of remittances to improve the living standards and well-being of the families and the economic and social development of the country.  The country must prevent the maras from laying their hands on remittances and ensure that those precious resources, that grew at the rate of $1 billion per year, were not being used to pay off corrupt officials.  The Co-Rapporteur welcomed the efforts to put in place a migration policy that incorporated the lessons from the past and stressed that civil society must be included in order to breathe life into policies that looked wonderful on paper.

ALVARO BOTERO NAVARRO, Committee Co-Rapporteur for Guatemala, thanked the delegation for the opportunity to exchange information on measures taken to protect the rights of migrants and address the global challenges that affected all countries.  The Co-Rapporteur urged Guatemala to continue efforts to address the mass mixed migration phenomena, and pay particular attention to tackle the causes of migration, provide resources for humanitarian assistance during transit, assist the vulnerable among the migrants, and provide durable solutions compatible with human dignity.  It was important to prevent the use of force and establish accountability for its use in the context of migration, and to adopt specific measures to guarantee access to justice for migrants.  The Migrant Code must be brought fully in line with international standards and must provide protection from the detention of migrants entering the country illegally and reaffirm the principle of non-refoulement.

JORGE LUIS BORRAYO REYES, President of the Presidential Commission for the Coordination of Executive Policy on Human Rights of Guatemala, recognized that Guatemala still had a lot to do to comply with it obligations under the Convention and stressed that the ongoing institutional change would continue to this process.  In this context, Mr. Borrayo Reyes mentioned that the Presidential Commission for the Coordination of Executive Policy on Human Rights was working, in partnership with civil society and the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, on putting in place an effective public policy on human rights defenders.  Guatemala recognized and understood the presence of foreigners in its country, whose people were open and warm hearted and who welcomed foreigners, and that was why it was surprising to hear references of xenophobia and hate speech against foreigners.  Guatemala always respected international instruments that it was a party to and in return asked the international community to respect the country and its sovereignty.

AHMADOU TALL, Committee Chairperson, thanked the delegation for the high-level dialogue which enabled the Committee to better understand the situation of migrant workers in Guatemala and Guatemalan workers abroad.  The Chair stressed the importance of invoking the Convention in interstate relations and urged Guatemala to continue to promote the Convention.  

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