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News > Guatemala

Guatemala: Ombudsman Demands Probe Into Migrant Girl's Death

  • Jackeline Caal was only 7 years old. She was severely dehydrated when detained by the U.S. border patrol.

    Jackeline Caal was only 7 years old. She was severely dehydrated when detained by the U.S. border patrol. | Photo: Twitter

Published 15 December 2018

Jackeline Caal died in U.S. custody. Rights groups blame the Trump administration's anti-immigrant policies. 

Guatemala’s Human Rights Ombudsman Jordan Rojas demanded Friday a thorough investigation be carried out to find out the causes behind the death of the 7-year-old migrant girl who died in United States custody, after being captured by the U.S. border patrol.


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Through an official statement, the prosecutor requested consular authorities in the U.S. to accompany the investigation to verify the treatment and healthcare provided to the child since she was detained by U.S. patrol.

Legislator Norma Torres, a Democrat from California, criticized the U.S. administration’s treatment of immigrants. “They should be treated as refugees … they murdered this girl.”

Members of the democratic party are also demanding an investigation into the girl’s death while some groups demand the resignation of Kirstjen Nielsen, head of the U.S.  Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Instead of accepting responsability, Nielsen has blamed the girl's family for her death.

In his statement Rojas stressed migration is "not a problem of national security."

Rojas  also urged Guatemala's Ministry of Foreign Affairs to provide the necessary assistance to girl’s family, in addition to guaranteeing a dignified treatment during the repatriation process.

Rojas said Jackeline Caal’s death exemplified the indolence and lack of political vision of the region’s governments.

"(Guaranteeing) the right to security and life has to be the main goal of authorities ... The efforts of authorities should not only focus on the control of migratory flows but on the integrity of all migrants," Rojas argued.

The migrant girl of Guatemalan origin was captured by the U.S. border patrol after crossing the border with her father, who told migration officials that she hadn’t been able to eat or drink in several days. The girl died of dehydration and “shock.”

According to the DHS, 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.

Tension has been mounting in the U.S. southern border as over 7,000 migrants, primarily from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador reached the border in the past days. They trekked around 4,000km to request asylum in the U.S., but Trump has instead closed major border crossings and deployed U.S. troop to keep the migrants from entering the country.

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