Investigate the death of Víctor Alexander Melgar Lemus
This month, we ask our members to write letters to Mexican officials, asking them to investigate a case of ill-treatment of migrants.
October 2009 action
A group of seven irregular migrants traveling through Chiapas state were shot at by members of the security forces. One migrant was killed and all other migrants were injured. Two of the irregular migrants are being guarded while they receive treatment in hospital.
On 18 September, seven migrants, all irregular as they were traveling without the required documents, were being transported in a pick up truck by two people smugglers near the town of Comitán, Chiapas state, southern Mexico. They report that as their driver approached a security check point he was told to stop, but sped off. The security forces opened fire on the pick up truck, hitting it repeatedly. Víctor Alexander Melgar Lemus, was fatally wounded and all other migrants, as well as one of the people smugglers, received gunshot wounds. The authorities have not disclosed whether the police or the army was staffing the check-point or who opened fire on the pick up truck.
Three injured migrants fled the scene, the other three were seriously wounded and only managed to walk a short distance. The migrants have said that both military and police officers arrived at the scene and started to interrogate them, then kicked and hit them with gun butts.
Two of the wounded are currently being treated in a hospital and guarded by National Migration Institute officials, while the third one is in detention and in the process of being deported to his country of origin. The National Human Rights Commission opened an investigation into the incident, but it is not clear whether the federal or state Attorney General’s Office have opened criminal investigations into the killing of Víctor Alexander Melgar Lemus, the use of lethal force and subsequent ill-treatment of the migrants. There are concerns that the migrants may be intimidated or threatened by the security forces responsible in order to deter them from pursuing a complaint.
Hundreds of thousands of irregular migrants attempt to travel through Mexico from Central and South America every year to reach the USA. Many are detained by the Mexican migration authorities and returned to their countries of origin. Amnesty International recently visited Mexico to investigate reports of human rights violations against these people. It found that many had been kidnapped by gangs, sometimes with the complicity of local officials.
These gangs and the corrupt officials are rarely brought to justice and people who file complaints against them may face reprisals and swift deportation. Impunity for abuses against migrants, who are extremely vulnerable, has allowed these abuses to increase since about 2003, despite government commitments to ensure respect of migrants’ rights.
This is not the first time this year that security forces shot, injured and killed migrants being transported by people smugglers, see also Urgent Action 11/09 (15 January 2009).
Write to Mexican Officials
(For sending an email, see further down the page.)
In your letters you should ask for an investigation into the case and for assurances that people assisting in the investigation can do so without fear of reprisals.
You can pick one of the officials from the list below for your letter, or you can send letters to several or all of the people listed.
Write or e-mail to:
Attorney General of the Republic
Arturo Chávez Chávez
Procurador General de la República
Procuraduría General de la República
Av. Paseo de la Reforma no 211-213, Col. Cuauhtémoc, Del. Cuauhtémoc
México D.F., C.P. 06500, Mexico
Salutation: Dear Attorney General/Señor Procurador General
Minister of Interior
Secretario de Gobernación
Bucareli 99, 1er piso
Col. Juárez, Del. Cuauhtémoc
México D.F., C.P.06600, Mexico
Salutation: Señor Secretario/Dear Minister
Governor of Chiapas state
Lic. Juan José Sabines Guerrero
Gobernador del Estado de Chiapas
Palacio de Gobierno, Col. Centro
29000, Tuxtla Gtz, Chiapas, Mexico
Salutation: Dear Governor/Señor Gobernador
Send copies of your letters to:
Enlace Comunicación y Capacitación
Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan Casamitjana
Embassy of Mexico
1911 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington DC 20006
Postage for letter to Mexico: 79¢
You can write a letter in your own words, or use one of the sample letters provided below.
If you use the sample letter, you should print and send out two copies of the letter you send. One copy would go to the person whose address is at the top of the letter, the other copy will go to the "Copy to:" address at the bottom of the letter.
To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
CC: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Subject: Please investigate the 18 September police action against migrant workers in Comitán, Chiapas
On 18 September, seven migrants, all irregular as they were traveling without the required documents, were being transported in a pick up truck by two people smugglers near the town of Comitán, Chiapas state, southern Mexico. Their driver did not stop at a security check point, but sped off. The security forces opened fire on the truck, hitting it several times. Víctor Alexander Melgar Lemus was fatally wounded and all other migrants, as well as one of the people smugglers, received gunshot wounds.
Three irregular migrants fled the scene even though they were injured. The other three, who were seriously wounded, only managed to walk a short distance from the truck and were caught by the police. They say that they were beaten by the police and military officers at the scene.
Could you please investigate these accusations of excessive force used by the police, and the death of Víctor Alexander Melgar Lemus and wounding of six others.
I hope that the migrants who are witnesses to the event will be guaranteed safety and will not have to fear government reprisals if they assist in the investigation.