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Mexico: UN experts call for investigations into migrant deaths at Ciudad Juarez immigration detention centre
05 April 2023
GENEVA (05 April 2023) – Condemning the events that led to the death of 39 migrants and asylum seekers at an immigration detention centre in northern Mexico, UN experts today called for prompt, thorough and independent investigations into the tragedy.
Dozens were also injured in the 27 March fire at the ‘Temporary Station of Ciudad Juarez’, an immigration detention centre in the State of Chihuahua a few meters from the border with the United States.
The UN Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and their Families (CMW) and the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants jointly issued the following statement, expressing their deepest condolences to the migrants and their families who were the victims of the tragedy:
“These tragic events, which require prompt, thorough and independent investigation, took place in the custody of State authorities, as the persons who died and were injured were deprived of their liberty within the framework of the implementation of migration policy. In this regard, the Committee, in 2017, when evaluating the third periodic report submitted by the Mexican State, expressed its concern about widespread use of immigration detention, and the conditions of persons held in detention centres known as migrant holding centres. On that occasion the Committee also recommended "developing a plan of action to ensure that immigration detention was a measure of last resort and for the shortest possible time" and "guaranteeing dignified and adequate conditions in detention centres, eradicating the use of punishment cells; putting an end to situations of overcrowding and overpopulation."
In October 2022, following up on these recommendations, the Committee urged Mexico to implement the Plan of Action, redoubling efforts to guarantee adequate conditions in migrant holding centres, including the absence of any form of punishment, isolation or similar practices. The Committee also recommended adopting all appropriate measures to prevent human rights abuses in migrant holding centres, promptly and independently investigating abuses when they occur, imposing corresponding sanctions and providing adequate reparation measures for victims.
In light of the tragic events at the Temporary Station of Ciudad Juarez, we urge the State to implement these recommendations for the benefit of the migrant population and their families. Likewise, the Committee and the Special Rapporteur urge the Mexican State to carry out a prompt, exhaustive, independent, impartial and transparent investigation of the events and determine responsibility, guarantee access to justice for the victims and their families, and adopt appropriate measures of reparation.
We urge the Mexican State to adequately gather evidence on the causes of the deaths, duly identify the victims and inform their families, and provide the necessary support for the transfer of the bodies. As for the injured, we urge the State to provide medical and psychological care necessary for their prompt and full recovery.
We call on Mexico and other States in the region to respect the human rights of migrants, including asylum seekers, comply with their obligations under the International Convention and comply with the Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights at International Borders. States must take measures to eradicate migration containment policies that put the lives of migrants at risk and lead to tragedies such as this one. To this end, States must create and expand regular channels for the migration of vulnerable people and guarantee the rights to seek and receive asylum and to non-refoulement.
Finally, the Committee and the Rapporteur, based on our respective mandates, place ourselves at the disposal of the Mexican State to assist with the implementation of these recommendations. We remain available to conduct a country visit to Mexico and engage in constructive dialogue with the authorities and other concerned actors.
The Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families monitors States parties' adherence to the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, which to date has 58 States parties. The Committee is made up of 14 members who are independent human rights experts drawn from around the world, who serve in their personal capacity and not as representatives of States parties.
The Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants is an independent expert appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council. Felipe González Morales has been the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants since 2017. He is a Professor of International Law at the Diego Portales University, in Santiago, Chile, where he is also the Director of a Master in International Human Rights Law. The mandate of the Special Rapporteur covers all countries, irrespective of whether a State has ratified the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, of 18 December 1990.