WASHINGTON – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has requested that the United States shut down detention centers for immigrant children and families and said it regretted Ecuador’s absence from its meetings for the third time.
These issues and others were discussed on the first day of the latest IACHR sessions and meetings on Monday focusing on the United States, Ecuador, Colombia and Cuba.
The IACHR expressed its concern over the way the United States had handled the crisis triggered by the arrival of more than 60,000 children alone at its southern border this year, especially from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
“The Commission has repeatedly said that children should not be retained in detention centers,” said one of the seven members of the IACHR, Felipe Gonzalez, who visited southern Texas in early October to assess the children’s situation.
The United States currently has three family detention centers in Texas, New Mexico and Pennsylvania where the immigrants remain while the justice system processes their deportation.
The Commission also evaluated charges of police racism in the case of the young African-American, Michael Brown, who was shot dead last summer by a white police officer in Missouri.
Just before the commencement of the Ecuador meeting, the IACHR received a notice from the Ecuadorean government criticizing the Commission and saying it would not be sending representatives to the meeting.
“It is a fact that we regret, because we believe that they are valuable, important, significant spaces for dialogue. They are not necessarily in agreement, each party can present their point of view on equal terms,” IACHR Executive Secretary, Emilio Alvarez Icaza, told Efe.
The IACHR had criticized what it considered “an acute crisis concerning the rights of Ecuadorean indigenous peoples” and had received reports from activists that the country’s judicial system was being used by the government to silence critics.
IACHR, an arm of the Organization of American States, also expressed concern over how the Colombian government is protecting the rights of peasants displaced by the construction of large hydroelectric projects and Bogota as asked to provide specific information on measures to protect the peasants’ land rights.
Another Colombia-related issue that was the charge by seven Colombian rights groups that senior military commanders enjoyed impunity for alleged extrajudicial executions.
In the only meeting on Cuba, the IACHR received reports of overpopulation, excessive use of force and lack of control mechanisms and basic services in Cuban prisons, indicating a systematic failure of the prisoners’ human rights which could be considered as torture.
Finally, the Commission announced that a special report would be approved soon for defining refugee status and adequately address the displacement of persons caused by violence in Central America.