Mexico Still Failing to Protect Migrants, Says Amnesty International

Press Release
December 19, 2011

Mexico Still Failing to Protect Migrants, Says Amnesty International

Contact: Gwen Fitzgerald, gfitzgerald@aiusa.org, 202-509-8194

(Washington, D.C.) -- The Mexican government has failed to live up to its promise to protect migrants from widespread human rights abuses, Amnesty International said today, ahead of International Migrants Day.

In the past year alone, the organization has documented numerous cases where Central American migrants travelling through Mexico have been kidnapped, tortured, raped, killed and disappeared by criminal gangs, often with the complicity of public officials. Migrants' rights defenders have also come under unprecedented attack.

"Despite the Mexican government's promise of change, systematic abuses against migrants continue unabated with laws and other official measures having little or no impact," said Rupert Knox, Mexico researcher at Amnesty International. "Prevention and punishment of these crimes remains a rare exception."

In February 2011, the National Human Rights Commission reported that 11,000 migrants had been kidnapped in the previous six months.

In April, mass graves were discovered again in San Fernando municipality in the northern state of Tamaulipas. The 193 unidentified bodies some are believed to be those of Mexican and Central American migrants abducted on route to the U.S. border, but fewer than 30 have been identified.

In Mexico state, three migrants' bodies were found in the space of three months, only yards away from San Diego migrants' shelter in Lecheria.

Those responsible for the abuses are rarely held to account and many cases of abducted or murdered migrants are not adequately investigated.

Throughout 2011, migrant rights defenders have been subject to attack, death threats and intimidation in reprisal for their efforts to support migrants. Fray Tomas, who runs "La 72" migrants' shelter in Tenosique, Tabasco state, has received anonymous death threats over the phone and been insulted by state police and members of the military.

In August 2010, following the massacre of 72 migrants in the northern state of Tamaulipas, the Mexican government launched its strategy to combat abuses against migrants. A year later, there was no evidence to show that any progress had been made.

During Mexico's appearance before the U.N. Committee on the Protection of all Migrant Workers in April 2011, it was clear that the government lacked a concrete plan of action to tackle the migrants' rights crisis in the country.

A new migration law passed this year should lead to greater protection of migrant's rights, but proposed implementing legislation has not been consulted with civil society or enacted. Meanwhile, although some measures have been taken to purge corrupt officials from the government body tasked with migration (Instituto Nacional de Migración, INM) allegations of abuse continue.

"For the past two years we've been calling on Mexico's federal authorities to lead the development and implementation of an action plan to protect migrants and stop abuses," said Knox. "It is high time they turn their promises into action."

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom and dignity are denied.

# # #

To mark International Migrants Day, Amnesty International has created a slideshow of photos with testimonies from migrants who have been kidnapped on the journey. For more information, please visit: www.amnestyusa.org.