Spanish version available here.
Commissioners: Rodrigo Escobar Gil, Rosa María Ortiz, and Tracy Robinson
People living on the streets are one of the most discriminated against groups in Mexico, according to the petitioner organizations in the November 2, 2012 Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) thematic hearing on the problem of violence, discrimination, and social cleansing of street people in Mexico. The petitioners said that street people are so discriminated against that they are not even included in the categories of discriminated people. They pointed out that street people are so isolated from public policies that there is not even sufficient information about them to allow the State to create programs for them. The Ombudsman of Mexico City has received more than ninety complaints of violations of the rights of street people and has issued four recommendations to the Government of Mexico City; however, according to the Ombudsman, these recommendations have not been implemented.
The President of the Comisión de Derechos Humanos del Distrito Federal (CDHDF) alleged that the street people in Mexico are victims of discrimination and are not allowed to access state services. He also mentioned that the street populations are victim of discrimination guardianship, where children are taken away from their families. The representative of Red por los Derechos de la Infancia en México (REDIM) denounced the systematic arbitrary arrest and the obligatory removal from public spaces of street people, calling it “social cleansing.” He alleged that non-state actors were carrying out these activities. Finally, Alianza Mexicana Poblaciones Callejeras denounced the degradation of the human rights of street people. They recalled the 1999 Case of the “Street Children” (Villagran-Morales et al.) v. Guatemala, in which the Inter-American Court of Human Rights recognized the right not just to live, but to live in dignity. Some of the conditions that were mentioned in the resolution to support this were the prevention of street children from living in misery and the ability to live in the minimum conditions necessary to allow them the “full and harmonious development of their personality.”
The petitioners made several proposals. The first was to recognize the historical omission by the State regarding the protection of the rights of this group and to develop public policies to assure their protection. They also proposed a visit by the Commission to Mexico to prepare a report on the subject. Finally, they suggested the creation of a high-level panel to address the following topics: the establishment of a database with reliable information; the adjustment of public policies and programs related to the protection of street people; the implementation of a campaign to promote non-discrimination of this group; and the creation of a legal framework to increase their protection.
The Undersecretary for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, Juan Manuel Gómez Robledo, stated his discomfort with the Commission for the selection of the title of the hearing. He pointed out it seems that the Commission is prejudicing the situation in Mexico and the title implies that “social cleansing” is part of a state policy. The representative of Mexico made a list of policy frameworks and programs that have been conducted nationally and in Mexico City to ensure the rights of the street population. He also supported the suggestion made by the petitioners to create a high-level panel that includes other state agencies such as the Comisión Nacional para Prevenir la Discrimination (CONAPRED). Finally, Ambassador Gómez Robledo invited Commissioner Rosa María Ortiz, the Rapporteur on Children, to visit Mexico.
Commissioner Ortiz celebrated the subject of the hearing, stating that it was a very relevant topic. She also noted that the transition between having only street children to have whole families living in the street shows that the public policies are not working. She congratulated the Mexican government for the existing legal framework and programs on the matter, but pointed out that the lack of information on the street population makes it difficult to create effective protection programs.