Mexico: despite progress, much remains to be done for migrants, says UN rights expert

16 March 2008 – Mexico's ability to protect migrants' rights is one of “contrasts,” according to an independent United Nations human rights expert, who said that although the country has made steps towards addressing migrants' needs, much remains to be done.

In a statement issued yesterday after wrapping up a seven-day visit to Mexico, Jorge Bustamante, who serves as Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, voiced concern over “reports of rampant impunity for instances of corruption, including bribery and extortion, violence against women, and trafficking in children.”

He also noted that “the impunity seems to be linked to abuses of power at the municipal, state and federal levels.”

While in the country, Mr. Bustamante, who reports to the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, met with Government authorities and the country's Senate in Mexico City, Tijuana and Tapachula.

While in the capital, as well as in the northern and southern border areas, he held talks with migrants and representatives of state government, the UN, the International Organization for Migration, the National Human Rights Commission, the Federal Human Rights Commission and civil society.

In Tapachula, by the country's southern border, the Special Rapporteur welcomed the Government's measures to bolster border control and detention procedures and local agencies' efforts to meet migrants' needs. However, he expressed his concern about the ability to tackle organized crime networks which play a part in the abuses.

Mr. Bustamante expressed his “dismay at the numerous abuses against migrants, especially those of Central American origin,” adding that 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.”

He observed that throughout his mission to Mexico, reports of violence against women – both during the migration process as well as in their places of work – was a constant theme, with numerous reports cases of rape, assault and abuses in the domestic realm.

“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,” the statement said.

“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.”


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