US: First Step to End Family Immigration Detention

6/25/15 Human Rights Watch

Army detentions MichoacanThe United States Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) decision to scale back its use of family immigration detention could help thousands of children and mothers who are fleeing persecution, Human Rights Watch said today. DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson announced on June 24, 2015, that the Obama administration was committed to “substantial changes” to family immigration detention.

The greatest benefit would be for families who are seeking asylum in the US, Human Rights Watch said. Johnson said that “once a family has established eligibility for asylum or other relief under our laws, long-term detention is an inefficient use of our resources and should be discontinued.”

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Mexico Holds 8 in Army in Inquiry of 22 Deaths

09/26/14 New York Times

justice - gavel and bookAn army officer and seven soldiers have been detained by the Mexican Defense Department in connection with the killing of 22 people in what is being investigated as a possible massacre in western Mexico in June. The arrests, on charges of crimes against military discipline, disobedience and dereliction of duty, announced in a statement late Thursday, represent a reversal for the military and some senior Mexican officials. The officials initially described the encounter on June 30 in San Pedro Limón as a shootout between soldiers and local gang members, with the soldiers firing in self-defense. “The official story is falling apart,” said José Miguel Vivanco, director of Human Rights Watch’s Americas division.

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As Mexico battles drug war, soldiers may face civilian trials for abuse

Photo by Flickr user ilya ginzburg

The Christian Science Monitor, 5/1/14

A Mexican congressional decision this week that allows members of its armed forces to be tried in civilian courts for crimes against civilians is a long-awaited win for Mexico’s human rights, advocates say.

Mexico’s lower house unanimously voted 428-0 on Wednesday to change provisions in the military code, including a clause that had given the military courts jurisdiction over any crimes committed by on-duty soldiers. The senate passed the changes last week and the bill is now expected to be signed into law by President Enrique Peña Nieto.

The reform is an important step, because a civilian court, “for all its flaws, is not rigged against” civilians as military courts are, Human Rights Watch senior Americas researcher, Nik Steinberg, told The Associated Press in an email. Mexico’s civilian system is far from perfect: More than 96 percent of crimes are never solved or punished. But the military system is considered opaque, with no public access to trial or prosecution information, and is full of incentives for judges to rule in favor of the military, according to a Human Rights Watch report, “Uniform Impunity.”

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Human Rights Watch Blasts U.S. Immigration ‘Abuses,’ Again

hands in handcuffsThe Huffington Post, 1/24/14

The failure of Congress and the White House to address the country’s immigration problems drew fire from a prominent human rights watchdog this week — again. Human Rights Watch criticized the U.S. government in its “World Report 2014,” released Tuesday, for what it called “abuses” related to the incarceration and deportation of undocumented immigrants. The organization echoed similar faults it found with U.S. immigration policy in world reports from past years.

The authors criticize the U.S. government’s human rights record, calling it “marred by abuses related to criminal justice immigration, national security and drug policy.” The report names immigrants and ethnic minorities as among the “most vulnerable members” of U.S. society. The report also notes that U.S. detention centers now hold approximately 400,000 undocumented immigrants each year, with hundreds in solitary confinement.

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Weekly News Summary: February 22

Coffee by Flikr user samrevelThe Mexico Institute’s “Weekly News Summary,” released every Friday afternoon, summarizes the week’s most prominent Mexico headlines published in the English-language press, as well as the most engaging opinion pieces by Mexican columnists.

What the English-language press had to say…

This week, auto defensa vigilante groups in the state of Guerrero released the last of the 42 alleged criminals they had kept hostage for almost two months, avoiding a showdown with government authorities. The leader of one such group reported the first casualty since the movement began in early January. Human Rights Watch released a scathing report blaming Mexico’s police and military forces of involvement in several dozen missing person cases. The government pledged to address the issue by, among other things, collecting DNA samples from the families of the disappeared in an effort to match missing persons’ reports with thousands of unidentified corpses found in recent years. In Tamaulipas, an anonymous Facebook and Twitter campaign continued to attract thousands of followers eager to receive unofficial updates on organized crime. International observers drew attention to the lack of safety that journalists working in Mexico face.

Continue reading “Weekly News Summary: February 22”

Mexico’s Government Pledges Hunt for Disappeared

Enrique PeñaNieto 2Associated Press, 2/21/2013

Mexico said Thursday that it will work with the International Red Cross on the search for thousands of people who have disappeared during the country’s six-year-old war on drug cartels. Officials provided few details of the arrangement signed in a public ceremony by the head of the International Red Cross and Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong.

The Red Cross said in a statement that it would provide “studies, protocols and technical assistance related to the search for the disappeared” but gave no specifics. Red Cross officials said they could not release a copy of the agreement, and the Interior Department did not immediately respond to requests for a copy.

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Mexico’s ‘Crisis Of Disappearance’: Families Seek Answers (Audio)

people waiting - out of focusNPR, 2/21/2013

Maximina Hernandez says she begged her 23-year old son, Dionicio, to give up his job as a police officer in a suburb of Monterrey. Rival drug cartels have been battling in the northern Mexican city for years. But he told her being a police officer was in his blood, a family tradition. He was detailed to guard the town’s mayor.

In May 2007, on his way to work, two men wearing police uniforms stopped Dionicio on a busy street, pulled him from his car and drove him away. That same day, the mayor’s other two bodyguards were also abducted. Witnesses say the kidnappers wore uniforms of an elite anti-drug police unit. The three men haven’t been seen since.

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