UN special rapporteur demands inquiry into death of Guatemalan girl held in US

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The United Nations monitor who acts as global watchdog on the treatment of migrants is calling for an in-depth independent investigation into what happened to Jakelin Caal Maquin, a seven-year-old Guatemalan girl who died in the custody of the US government.

 

Felipe González Morales, the UN’s special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, has sent a formal complaint to US secretary of state Mike Pompeo, via officials in Geneva, in which he sounds the international alarm about the death. Jakelin died on 8 December, less than 48 hours after she was detained by Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) at a remote border crossing in New Mexico.

González is demanding a full independent inquiry into the tragedy, to be led by judges and lawyers and in which the girl’s family is legally represented and given access to language translation. As a measure to prevent more deaths, he also calls for an immediate end to detention of migrant children in the US and urges the Trump administration to address “failings within the immigration system to prevent similar situations”.

In an interview with the Guardian, González said numerous international human rights bodies had repeatedly warned that children should not be kept in detention based on their migrant status.


González is demanding a full independent inquiry into the tragedy, to be led by judges and lawyers and in which the girl’s family is legally represented and given access to language translation. As a measure to prevent more deaths, he also calls for an immediate end to detention of migrant children in the US and urges the Trump administration to address “failings within the immigration system to prevent similar situations”.

In an interview with the Guardian, González said numerous international human rights bodies had repeatedly warned that children should not be kept in detention based on their migrant status.

 

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“Detention of children has such a severe impact on them that we have repeatedly warned of the risks,” he said.

The UN monitor stressed that the Trump administration was bound by international laws it could not shirk.

“When a person, especially a child, is in the custody of a state, that state has to ensure their rights. States have an obligation to care for migrants who arrive at the border, they cannot treat them as animals in inhuman conditions. I’m not saying this happened in this case, but the US has a duty in this regard.”

The intervention of the main international watchdog on the human rights of migrants adds to pressure for the Trump administration to go beyond the routine inquiry that is being carried out by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General. Lawyers for the girl’s family as well as several members of Congress have decried such an internal investigation as a grossly inadequate form of self-policing.

“Something as serious as the death of this girl should not be left to administrative authorities,” González told the Guardian. “I want to make sure that judges and public attorneys carry out the investigation fully in an independent manner without any pressure from the immigration authorities. An internal CBP inquiry would not be satisfactory.”

Read the entire article here: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/dec/24/jakelin-caal-un-special-rapporteur-demands-inquiry-death?fbclid=IwAR3fPDllHexniSKpo_xReqmx0wtNnjvtzVaN8_ncQbyE11hUscV8C3nmZiE