Death during police operation raises serious questions about worsening treatment of migrants
The death of a Central American man travelling with his eight-year-old daughter during a police operation in the city of Saltillo is yet another brutal sign of Mexico’s increasingly hostile approach to migrants and refugees, said Amnesty International today.
“Mexican authorities should treat migrants and their families with humanity, not chase or gun them down,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.
On 31 July, approximately ten migrants left the “Casa de Migrante Saltillo” migrant shelter in the northern state of Coahuila on their way to nearby railway tracks where freight trains pass on their way to the United States. According to a statement by staff at the shelter, there were women, children and babies among the group.
During the evening, Coahuila state police officers opened fire, killing a Central American man in front of his eight-year-old daughter. Public information based on witness statements point to the fact that Federal Police and National Institute of Migration officers could also have been involved in the incident, although federal authorities denied this.
State authorities reported to the press that one man in the group was carrying a gun and that their officers “repelled an aggression”. However, to enter the Saltillo migrant shelter, migrants are rigorously checked for any arms, drugs or cell phones, and have to abide by strict discipline rules.
“Coahuila state authorities, as well as Mexico’s federal security and migration authorities, have serious questions to answer about shooting down a man close to his young daughter if they cannot prove that the police officer was reacting to an imminent threat of death or serious injury,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas.
Any death at the hands of authorities must be investigated in line with the Minnesota Protocol on the Investigation of Potentially Unlawful Death (2016), a set of international guidelines for the investigation of suspicious deaths in which state responsibility is suspected. In accordance with the UN Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms, the use of lethal force is only lawful in response to an imminent threat of death or serious injury. It must be a last resort, where no other alternative measure is available.