On November 7, in the Hall of Fine Arts in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, the National Institute of Migration (INM) offered a public apology to four Tzeltal indigenous people from Chiapas who were detained, tortured and almost deported by INM elements. In 2015, the two men and two women were on their way north, looking for work in one of the country’s several industrial crops. Presenting their birth certificates and their electoral identification at a checkpoint in San Juan del Río, Querétaro, “INM agents told them they were false, took them to a migratory station and told them they were Guatemalans; they mistreated them so that they would admit to being from Guatemala”, explained María Fernanda Pincus, director of the Legal Clinic of the University program of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). One of the victims was still a minor at the time of the arrest.
Accompanied by the Municipal President of San Cristóbal, Jerónima Toledo Villalobos, Francisco Garduño Yáñez, commissioner of INM, apologized to the legal representative of the victims, Gretchen Kuhner, for the violation of their human rights and the “damage to the image, honor and dignity“, of the 4 people. “They were not present at the ceremony because they want to maintain a private life, but it was very important that a public apology be made because it is not something that happens only to them; they said we don’t want it to happen to us, but neither to other people”, said María Fernanda Pincus. According to Gretchen Kuhner, the victims accept the apology.
As consequence and in an administrative process, two deputy directors, an agent, a coordinator and two heads of department were punished with suspensions between 15 and 30 days. “Through me, the Institute is committed to guaranteeing measures of non-repetition, so that the acts that violated the human rights of these people do not happen again”, Garduño Yáñez said. He added that the end of non-repetition “translates into prevention through the sensitization of public servants attached to the INM, on issues related to indigenous communities and the urgency of its members to migrate to other parts of the country.” According to María Fernanda Pincus, in addition, there will be “reparation of the damage in economic terms, because they were going to work in the north of the country as agricultural day laborers and they will be paid what they missed earning in those days.”
Mario Peña, also from the Legal Clinic of the UNAM’s University Program on Human Rights, pointed out that “there are no conditions to know who are Mexicans and who are foreigners. We have noticed that people in vulnerable conditions with little command of Spanish are more affected and that they are not provided with an interpreter of their language in migration procedures”.
For more information:
Pide el INM disculpas a indígenas tzeltales por agresión en retén (La Jornada, November 7, 2019)
El INM ofrece disculpa pública a indígenas chipanecos confundidos con migrantes (El Proceso, November 7, 2019)
Ofrece INM disculpa pública a 4 indígenas de Chiapas (El Heraldo de México, November 7, 2019)
Ofrecen disculpa pública a tzeltales torturados en 2015 (EL Universal, November 8, 2019)
For more information from SIPAZ:
Chiapas: Migration Authorities Stop Migrant Caravan in Tapachula (October 17, 2019)
Chiapas: African Migrants Clash with National Guard in Tapachula (October 8, 2019)