Monday, March 26, 2012

3 Rights Groups will blast Border Patrol, Testify tomorrow before Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

WASHINGTON, D.C. –Several important human rights groups have been granted a hearing by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) about human rights violations against migrants detained and repatriated at the U.S.-Mexico border. Three of these groups will present testimony tomorrow before the IACHR. Established by the United States and all countries in the Western hemisphere in 1959, the IACHR is authorized to examine allegations of human rights violations by any member country. The hearing will take place at 9:00 a.m. in the offices of the IACHR at 1889 F Street, NW, Washington, D.C. on Tuesday March 27th. The U.S. government will send representatives to respond to the allegations.

The rights groups involved in the denunciation are:  No More Deaths, the ACLU of New Mexico - Regional Center for Border Rights, the Southern Border Communities Coalition, the Latin America Working Group Education Fund, the Women’s Refugee Commission, Rights Working Group and the National Immigration Forum.

Cover image from report detaining U.S. Border  Patrol abuse 
A live webcast of the session is expected to be available at this site.

The hearing follows six years of interviews and documentation work by No More Deaths, a humanitarian and advocacy organization based on the Arizona-Mexico border. This work has included nearly 15,000 interviews with recent deportees who had experienced abusive conditions while in custody. No More Deaths’ most recent report, A Culture of Cruelty: Abuse and Impunity in Short-Term U.S. Border Patrol Custody, published in September 2011, included the following findings, consistent with those of other civil society organizations working in the region:
• 11,384 reports of inadequate access to food;
• Children were more likely to be denied water than adults;
• 374 cases of individuals being repatriated without needed emergency medical care or
• Coercion into signing legal documents;
• Practices that put vulnerable migrants in harm’s way: dividing families and repatriating vulnerable populations, including children or pregnant women, in the middle of the night;
• Unsanitary and inhumane processing center conditions;
• Reports of verbal, physical and psychological abuse.
In addition to these cases of abuse and mistreatment, the report documents serious structural shortcomings in U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) internal oversight mechanisms, resulting in a widespread culture of impunity in which abusive behavior goes unpunished and uncorrected. Petitioners have identified violations of repatriation agreements between the U.S. and Mexico that put vulnerable migrants at risk.

“Not only is the U.S. government failing to adequately screen for asylum seekers and trafficked children, it is failing to meaningfully engage with civil society to work on addressing these violations of U.S. and international law,” said Jennifer Podkul, program officer, Women’s Refugee Commission.

The U.S. Border Patrol has refused to release complete versions of existing detention policies or to allow civil society organizations access to the facilities to monitor conditions. Efforts to use existing oversight mechanisms have been similarly unproductive, in part due to the fact that all are internal to DHS.

“Current complaint processes are difficult to navigate and lack transparency, providing little to no information regarding allegations of abuse,” said Danielle Alvarado of No More Deaths and co-author of A Culture of Cruelty. “This reflects DHS’ limited ability to meaningfully address systemic, abusive Border Patrol practices.”

Some of the dangerous and abusive U.S. Border Patrol practices documented by these groups violate existing repatriation agreements between the governments of the United States and Mexico; other practices fail to comply with asylum and trafficking screening requirements set forth in domestic and international law, including the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection and Reauthorization of 2008, the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man, and the United Nations Convention Against Torture.

Stated Alvarado, “The Border Patrol blatantly disregards its own policies regarding the treatment of those in their custody, and existing oversight mechanisms have proven unable to prevent abuse. It is clear that the Department of Homeland Security cannot be trusted to police itself. We need independent oversight with the participation of civil society human rights observers if we want to actually stop, and not just cover up, the truly outrageous violations we hear about on a daily basis from people who have been deported to Mexico."

Source: Press release, 3/26/2012

1 comment:

Vicente Duque said...

Amicus Briefs to Supreme Court opposing SB 1070 - Prominent American Personalities of more importance than those that support the Law, 11 states : California, New York, Illinois, etc, more than 40 cities : Tucson, Flagstaff, San Luis in AZ

By contrast, no member of any prior federal administration joined a brief supporting SB 1070. Opposition to SB 1070 is far broader than its proponents care to admit. Public opinion polls simply cannot account for the types of problems that will occur if Arizona-type laws take effect—whether from a fiscal, foreign relations, or law enforcement standpoint.

Immigration Impact
Supreme Court Flooded with Briefs Opposing Arizona SB 1070
by Ben Winograd
April 5, 2012

Some excerpts :

One brief filed in opposition to SB 1070 was joined by a former Secretary of State (Madeline Albright), a former Secretary of Defense (William Cohen), and two former ambassadors to the United Nations (Albright and John Negroponte). Another brief was submitted on behalf of two former commissioners of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (Doris Meissner and James Ziglar). By contrast, no member of any prior federal administration joined a brief supporting SB 1070.

Eleven states—with a combined population of nearly 100 million—submitted a brief opposing SB 1070, including California, New York, and Illinois. More than 40 cities and counties also filed a brief opposing the law, three of which are located in Arizona (Tucson, Flagstaff, and San Luis).

A brief filed on behalf of 68 pro-immigrant members of Congress was joined by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other high-ranking members of the House Democratic leadership. By contrast, no member of the House Republican leadership signed a pro-SB 1070 brief filed on behalf of fifty conservative lawmakers.