The Mexican government has been sending thousands of Central American asylum seekers back to their conflict-ridden countries where they fear persecution, a new Amnesty International report claims.
The report, based on a survey of nearly 500 people, said Mexico's National Migration Institute, INM, is violating the non-refoulement principle, an international law which bars a country to send back the asylum seekers in fear of persecution.
Nearly 40 percent of those detained were in violation of non-refoulement, Amnesty International said in its report, whereas 75 percent of those detained by the INM were not informed of their right to seek asylum in Mexico.
"These are heartbreaking stories of families, children, men and women fleeing from extreme violence in order to save their lives. Rather than providing them with the protection, they are entitled to, Mexico is unlawfully turning its back on these people in need," said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.
The report also cited a Honduran bus driver who was deported from Mexico and was killed three weeks after in his home country.
An asylum-seeker from Honduras divulged to Amnesty International that when he raised concern over his deportation to the Central American country, an INM agent responded saying, "Now that you’ve been detained, you’re screwed and you’re gonna get deported to your country."
"Other people told Amnesty International they were coerced into signing away their deportation against their will," the report mentioned.
INM said there was room for improvement, but denied forcing or tricking asylum-seekers into signing voluntary return papers, adding it distributes promotional materials, pamphlets and such at detention centers to inform migrants about their rights, the Associated Press reported.
In 2017, 14,596 people asked for asylum in Mexico, a 66 percent increase compared to 2016. Of those, only 1,907 requests were approved in 2017.
The 2017 increase could be attributed to the spike in asylum seekers from Venezuela, with a slight increase of about nine percent from El Salvador and Honduras.