WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
9 Jan 2013

Mexican Authorities Must Protect the Staff of the Belén Migrant Shelter of Saltillo

On January 9, WOLA called on the Mexican government to take the necessary steps to ensure the safety of the staff of the Belén Migrant Shelter (Posada Belén – Casa del Migrante) in Saltillo, Coahuila which has experienced threats and thefts throughout the past month. We are greatly alarmed by these recent events and by the series of threats, intimidation, and smears that the shelter’s staff has experienced since 2009.

On December 19, the window of a car belonging to Father Pedro Pantoja Arreola, the shelter’s director, was broken, and a briefcase containing confidential documents related to the shelter was stolen. On December 27, the car of the shelter’s coordinator was also broken into, and another briefcase with important confidential documents was stolen. Valuables were not taken in either case, despite being present in both vehicles. On December 30, Father Pantoja received a call on his personal phone during which the caller threatened the shelter’s entire staff.

It is important to note that in 2010, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights instructed the Mexican government to provide protective measures for the staff of the shelter. Although there is a patrol car stationed outside the shelter, workers have expressed concern about the lack of training of the officers assigned to protect them. There is also concern about other shortcomings in the protection measures, such as the fact that the patrol responsible for the shelter staff’s security was not present at the shelter on December 31 and January 1.

It is of utmost importance that the Mexican government take the necessary steps to protect the staff of the Belén migrant shelter. WOLA calls on Mexican authorities to implement an effective protection plan that incorporates the precautionary measures ordered by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and to carry out an immediate, impartial investigation of the recent harassment and robberies experienced by the shelter’s staff.

Please click here to read the letter to Minister of the Interior Miguel Osorio Chong (Spanish only).