Although the right to migrate is consecrated in article 13 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, it continues to be violated by different actors.
In Mexico, human rights defenders defend migrants by giving them humanitarian, legal and psychological attention which is often the only support migrants receive as they pass through the country that shares a border with the USA; the most transited border in the world.
In the State of Coahuila, in the North of the country, the Casa Migrante Saltillo – CMS – has been carrying out this work since 2002, for which those working in the migrant shelter have received abuse, threats and intimidation that have made their work particularly difficult and have put their lives at risk.
In July 2019 CMS publicly denounced and operative carried out by the federal police who attempted to enter the shelter in order to check the situation of the migrants. It is worth noting that article 76 of the Migration Law prohibits authorities from carrying our verification visits in migrant shelters. Last summer, the Bishop of Saltillo, Raúl Vera López, denounced the risks that the defenders from the CMS were facing, including aggressions that they had suffered and the impunity for the crimes committed against them.
Recently, on 28th December 2019 as the UN highlighted, the CMS suffered the suspension of their water service which undoubtedly violated the human right to water and hygiene for the migrant population who found themselves in the shelter in conditions of extreme vulnerability. The water service has been returned to the CMS, however, due to this situation, the director of the organisation, Alberto Xicoténcatl Carrasco, has received a series of defamation attacks through articles in the press which have attempted to discredit his legitimate work as a human rights defender.
Attacks against human rights defenders who defend migrants show the criminanlisation of migration in Mexico and in the region, as well as the constant violation of the right to defend human rights, despite it being an obligation of the Mexican State.
In 2010, the Interamerican Human Rights Commission (IAHRC) gave precautionary measure 312-09 to the CMS and later, in 2013, it was the Human Rights Commission of the State of Coahuila that solicited the implementation of these precautionary measures through the Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders and Journalists. However, the organisation and its members continue to receive defamation and aggressions, violating not only their rights, but those of the migrants.
According to a report presented by Front Line Defenders in September, the risks and threats that defenders are most likely to face are detentions, deportations, legal proceedings, defamation, surveillance and intimidation against shelters and community centres, stigmatisation, amongst others. In this same report, Front Line Defenders call for the historic work of organisations such as CMS to be recognised, not only for protecting the rights of migrants, but for creating community support networks that strengthen the construction of inclusion and respect for diversity.
In this context, PBI supports the work carried out by CMS in the state of Coahuila and accompanies it’s work giving holistic attention to migrants and refugees, as well as reiterating the importance of the protection of members of the CMS through the implementation of the precautionary measures and the functioning of the Mechanism to guarantee the physical and emotional integrity of human rights defenders and migrants.