Commissioners: Tracy Robinson, Rodrigo Escobar Gil, Rosa María Ortiz, Felipe González
Petitioners came before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to argue that there is a lack of institutional presence in addressing internal displacement in Mexico. Petitioners explained that there are more than 160,000 people displaced in Mexico as a result of violence. Inter-communal violence, drug-related violence, and human rights abuses have contributed to the phenomena of large-scale internal displacement. Petitioners noted that before 2007, internal displacements were mostly for land disputes, religious intolerance, and communal disputes. In 2007, extortion, direct threats, and violence from armed groups aggravated internal displacement. Petitioners argued that these displacements have only received erratic responses from State authorities, where authorities have forced people to return to their homes taking away their freedom of choice. In the last three years, the Norwegian Council has analyzed internal displacement through both qualitative and quantitative analysis. However, these resources are insufficient to fully appreciate the internal displacement phenomena and to understand which municipalities have been hardest hit. Petitioners explained that most people go from a location that is more violent to one that is less violent, but they are unable to evaluate how many people go from one city to another. The evidence presented by the Petitioners pointed out that there is a need to provide protection for the communities that have been hardest hit by the violence and displacement, including protecting the land that people have left behind, and to provide shelter and medical attention to ensure that displaced people can find jobs and will not have to return to the violent location they came from. To evaluate if socio-economic status plays a role, the Petitioners looked at communities with similar socio-economic status and found that 4.5 more people were likely to leave in violent communities than in non-violent communities.
State representatives did not respond on the issue of internal displacement but discussed incorporating displacement within refugee issues. The State asserted that Mexico has received many refugees, especially from Guatemala, and that there are internal displacement programs for people who are part of the internal migration within the many types of migration that exists. The State further asserted that it is difficult to separate the reasons for internal displacement from violence from displacement for socio-economic reasons. The State also explained that Mexico is fifth in the world for homicides. The State is working to reduce the rate of homicides by 19%. The State also emphasized that the General Victims law was established to implement international standards under Article 1 of the Constitution, providing reparations for violations of human rights. Article 61 also refers to restitution of victims and working towards a dignified and safe return to one’s place of residence. The State noted that though the problems have not been solved yet, it hopes to involve the Petitioners in implementing these actions.
Commissioner Rodrigo Escobar Gil emphasized the importance of giving visibility to internal displacement. He said that the state cannot mix internally forced displacement with the policy of attending to refugees or incorporate it within the general policies of fighting violence. He said that we need to have a comprehensive public policy for internally displaced people, which needs to identify how many men, women, and children have been displaced. He recommended a registry, early warning systems, and coordinating efforts between the federal, state, and local governments to provide a process that allows people to return to their homes, because displacement destroys the social fabric of communities.
Commissioner Rosa María Ortiz asked what mechanisms exist to protect the rights of children. She also noted that it seems the State is much more reactive than preventive.
The Petitioners responded that they think it is necessary to have a committee that addresses the internally displaced people themselves and that there is a need to amend Article 93 to provide specific assistance to displaced people. The State responded that there is a balancing problem that has given rise to these changes and that it will focus on the commonalities. The general conclusion of the hearing was that a specific policy measure and law addressing internally displaced people is needed.