11/18/13 (written by gomeznathalie) — On November 1, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, CIDH) met in Washington, D.C. to turn its attention to Mexico and the country’s serious issue of displaced persons. The occasion proved momentous due to the presence of various human rights organizations in attendance, as well as executive representatives of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. The CIDH requested that Mexico enact ‘specific’ political policies to help quantify, address, and diagnose the extent of the problem of displacement, an issue that has been on the rise since the Calderón administration’s (2006-2012) crackdown on criminal organizations. Displaced persons include the vast amount of victims of drug related violence who have been forced to flee their homes as a result of the country’s ongoing security crisis.
Noticias Terra reported that among its requests, the CIDH recommended that the Mexican government create a registry to maintain a record of those displaced; establish clear legal and politically coordinated avenues to address the issue of displacement, which they report has affected thousands of families since 2007; construct a system dedicated to the prevention of displacement; launch humanitarian programs in regions of destination; and create educative programs to inform the public and political officials of the issue.
CIDH Commissioner Rodrigo Escobar Gil emphasized the importance of such measures. “The displaced person is not a migrant…persons who migrate from one place to another do so because they do not have [established] work or because they want to improve their standard of living,” he said. “We are talking about forced displacement.” According to Escobar, it is necessary to create such programs in order to understand the needs that the displaced require, and to guarantee the livelihood of these individuals by allowing them access to a safe home, stable work, health, and education in their destinations. Speaking on behalf of the commission for Mexico, Escobar explained that Mexico must adopt an integral political policy as a relief mechanism for the displaced.
News outlets report that about 160,000 people have been displaced as a result of drug related violence since 2006. Thousands of journalists, human rights activists, entrepreneurs, community members, and friends and family of the victims have become victims themselves, caught in the middle of clashes between police officials and drug trafficking organizations. Noticias Terra reports that while the recommendations from CIDH to Mexico are necessary, the Mexican government faces challenges in their implementation. Escobar explained that the information on the displaced gathered from sources of inquiry (surveys, questionnaires, and investigations) is often unreliable. Furthermore, Mexican authorities have had great difficulty separating economic based migration from migration based on asylum, the latter of which would contribute to the displaced population. In many instances, victims who have become displaced as a result of violence do not want to be identified, says Patricia Chemor, general secretary of the National Population Council of Mexico (Consejo Nacional de Población de México, CONAPO). La Jornada Michoacan highlighted the fact that forced displacement is a separate issue from the phenomenon of economic-based migration, and thus requires special attention.
Legislatively speaking, while the General Law for Victims (Ley General de Víctimas) has proven to be a monumental step forward, much more must be done to protect displaced victims of drug related violence, argues Felipe González of the organization Rights of the Migrants (Derechos de los Migrantes). For his part, Commissioner Escobar believe that a public policy and national law addressing the issue of displacement is necessary to avoid the confusion between economic migration, laws governing refugee status, secure citizenry, public safety, and forced displacement. He also urged Mexico to coordinate between the federal, state, and local levels to address the problem.