PBI-Guatemala highlights Human Rights Ombudsperson’s concern about state violence against Honduran migrants

Published by Brent Patterson on

On January 18, the Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project posted this article from Prensa Libre and highlighted the concerns expressed by the Human Rights Ombudsperson (PDH) about the use of the army and police against migrants.

The Office of the Humans Rights Ombudsperson (Procurador de los Derechos Humanos – PDH) is a state entity commissioned by the Congress of Guatemala to guarantee compliance with human rights obligations established in the Guatemalan Constitution, the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and other conventions.

In this statement, the Human Rights Ombudsperson reminds Guatemalan authorities that: “Migrants flee social inequality, poverty and violence, and cannot be subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment in Guatemalan territory.”

He further notes: “The Migration Code states that ‘the State of Guatemala recognizes the right of every person to emigrate or immigrate, so that the migrant may enter to remain, transit, leave and return to the national territory in accordance with national law’.”

He also tweeted the full statement and further commented: “The brutal use of force by the Guatemalan Army against migrants from Honduras is deplorable. The migration is caused because in our countries there are no minimum conditions for a dignified life. It is necessary to have empathy and solidarity.”

The Guardian has reported: “Thousands of mostly Honduran migrants began crossing the Guatemalan border on Friday night, having set off on foot from the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula in the early hours of Thursday. On Sunday, as they trekked west across Guatemala towards its border with Mexico, part of the group was intercepted by members of Guatemala’s army and police near the village of Vado Hondo.”

That article highlights: “Troops used teargas, riot shields and sticks to repel the weary, backpack-carrying travellers as they tried to push past.”

Andres Gomez, a Guatemalan in the caravan, told Reuters: “This isn’t a war. It’s a caravan with women and children. The soldiers have no right to beat anyone. There are women who’ve been beaten, it’s an act of violence.”

Guatemala’s top immigration official has stated that since Friday, 7,000 to 8,000 Hondurans have crossed into Guatemala. As of late Monday, officials say that about 1,800 of those migrants have been sent back to Honduras.

In response to the events of the last several days, PBI-Honduras has also posted: “Migration is a global issue, which increases year after year. Migrants are people who must be given guarantees of their human rights.”

There are many migrants still seeking to transit through Mexico to the United States.

The Casa del Migrante was established in Saltillo, Mexico (near the US border) to support migrants (many of whom are from Honduras). PBI-Mexico, through its accompaniment of the Casa, attempts to open political space at the local, national and international level to enable it to carry out its work in defence for human rights.

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