• Press Release

Amnesty International Demands NGO Access to Mexico’s Migrant Detention Centers

A razor wire topped fence runs diagonally from lower right to upper left of frame in a horizontal composition. Early morning sun illuminates the razor coils while some of the image falls into shadow - mostly the backdrop. Foreground focus on razor coils and metal fence post.

In response to the decision by the National Institute of Migration (INM) to temporarily suspend access by all religious associations and NGOs to the country’s migration detention centers, which was denied hours later by the Ministry of the Interior, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, said:

“The uncertainty generated by the government’s contradictory statements regarding the prohibition of access to migrant detention centers for civil society organizations is very grave. The authorities must not jeopardize the lives and rights of thousands of people in need of protection who are detained in these places.”

“This arbitrary decision by the National Institute of Migration hinders the fundamental work of legal assistance and verification of the situation of migrants and asylum seekers, and increases the vulnerability of these people, making clear the Mexican government’s intention to evade scrutiny of its compliance with its international obligations to protect human rights.”

“The Mexican government should promptly provide clear information about the measures taken to protect the rights of migrants and asylum seekers, and publicly recognize the work of organizations that defend their rights, granting them immediate access to all migrant detention centers.”

Last Friday, in light of the repeated difficulties that several organizations reported in entering migrant detention centers on the southern border and in Mexico City, Amnesty International published an open letter asking the INM commissioner to guarantee all civil society organizations access to all migrant detention centers, in compliance with the recommendations made by various United Nations mechanisms and procedures.

However, on Monday, the INM decided to formally suspend the admission of all organizations to the country’s migrant detention centers. Hours after this information was published, the INM warned that new dates of entry would be “rescheduled”, but shortly afterwards the Ministry of the Interior distanced itself from that statement, generating further concern about the lack of coordination and the situation of migrants. The INM took this unilateral decision without clarity about its implementation, just days after the Mexican government stopped the recent migrant caravan, mostly comprised of Hondurans, from entering Mexican territory. Mexican authorities have reportedly deported more than 2,000 people to this country in just nine days.

For years, Amnesty International has documented the Mexican authorities violating the human rights of people in need of protection, including violations of their right to seek asylum, through forced returns to their countries of origin, as well as prolonged detentions and the arrest of children in violation of Mexican law.

For their part, in recent decades migrant rights organizations in Mexico have repeatedly denounced the ill-treatment, overcrowding and inhumane detention conditions in migrant holding centers that impact on people’s physical and emotional wellbeing, as well as the harassment of asylum seekers aimed at making them abandon their appeals and accept deportation. The situation has not changed in this time.