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News > Guatemala

Body of Migrant Girl Who Died in US Care Arrives in Guatemala

  • Claudia Maquin, 27, the mother of Jakelin Caal, awaits the arrival of the coffin with the body of her daughter.

    Claudia Maquin, 27, the mother of Jakelin Caal, awaits the arrival of the coffin with the body of her daughter. | Photo: EFE

Published 24 December 2018

The body of the migrant child who died in the U.S. custody was brought back to her mother Sunday while the U.N. called for a probe into her death. 

The body of Jakelin Caal, the Guatemalan girl who died while in the custody of United States Border Patrol of dehydration, arrived at La Aurora airport in Guatemala Sunday.


Family Painfully Remembers Guatemalan Girl Killed in US Custody

The family of the seven year old was not there to receive her body as they did not have the money to travel from the remote municipality of Raxruha in northern Guatemala.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs did the necessary formalities. Around 5 pm local time, her body was taken to her village from the airport.

Her death has once again brought to the fore the treatment of migrants by U.S. authortities.

The girl and her father were detained by immigration authorities on Dec. 6 in New Mexico as part of a group of 163 people who approached U.S. agents to turn themselves in. On Dec. 7, the girl started having seizures and was taken to a hospital, where she died. 

According to the Department of Homeland Security, the girl’s father signed a document stating his daughter was in good health. However, many question the validity of the statements, given that the girl and her father, Nery Caal, are of Maya origin and did not speak English. It is still uncertain whether they spoke Spanish.

A United Nations human rights expert called on U.S. authorities Monday to conduct a full and independent investigation into the death of Caal and to stop detaining children.

Felipe Gonzalez Morales, the U.N. special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, also said the family of Jakelin Caal, from the Mayan Indigenous community, should be given access to legal representation in the proceedings in a language they understand.

“Redress to her family should be provided and if any officials are found responsible they should be held accountable,” he said in a statement.

“The government should also address failings within the immigration system, and specifically within the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agency, to prevent similar situations.”

“The U.S. authorities must ensure that an in-depth, independent investigation of the death of Jakelin Amei Caal is conducted,” Gonzalez Morales, a Chilean professor of international law, said in the statement.

Gonzalez Morales called on the Trump administration to halt the detention of children, unaccompanied or with their families, based on their migratory status, and to seek alternatives.

“As repeatedly stated by a series of UN human rights bodies, detention of children based on their migratory status is a violation of international law,” he said.

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