On January 15, over 300 civil society organizations and individuals endorsed a statement calling on the governments of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and the United States to ensure the humane treatment of migrants from Central America traveling in a caravan in the region. The statement calls on those governments to respect their domestic and international laws by guaranteeing the possibility to seek asylum for those fleeing violence and persecution, as well as the impacts of hurricanes Eta and Iota on the region, among other demands.
The statement discusses the socio-political climate that has forced so many people to leave their homes, as well as the unique vulnerabilities of marginalized groups in Central America, including women, LGBT+, and Indigenous groups. The United States through the “Remain in Mexico” program and Asylum Cooperation Agreements with several regional governments has set the conditions for oppressive responses that violate the safety and rights of those attempting to leave.
The signatures express concern about the dangers of employing the armed forces to respond to the caravan given their security role and lack of training to interact with vulnerable populations. These concerns proved to be well founded when on January 18 Honduran migrants were forcibly turned back or detained by armed forces in Guatemala who did not permit them to pass.
The statement also raises alarm about efforts from governments in the region to impede their own citizens from leaving the country and of the Mexican government’s past warnings to criminally prosecute migrants who expose others to the risk of COVID-19 instead of implementing sanitary measures to guarantee the right to seek asylum.
To address these concerns, the statement outlines conditions that guarantee humane treatment of migrants in compliance with international law:
Read the statement here.