Sunday, February 25, 2024

Government to pay 85 million pesos to compensate INM fire victims

The Mexican government will pay 85 million pesos (US $5 million) to the families of the victims of the fire that broke out at a migrant detention center in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, in March. 

Francisco Garduño, who remains director of the National Immigration Institute (INM) despite being charged in relation to the fire, announced that the amount had been allocated as compensation for the 40 deceased and 27 injured migrants. 

Emergency responders outside immigration detention center
According to reports, a migrant set fire to mattresses after a group was informed that they would be deported. (Juan Ortega/Cuartoscuro)

“Right now we have an initial fund of 85 million [pesos] authorized by the Ministry of Finance to begin to cover the comprehensive reparation for the damage,” said Garduño during a visit Tuesday to the Federal Criminal Justice Center in Chihuahua, where he is required to present himself every 15 days as part of ongoing legal proceedings. 

In April, the Attorney General charged Garduño with the improper exercise of public service for “failing to comply with his obligation to monitor, protect and provide security to the people and facilities under his care.”  He faces a prison sentence of up to seven years if convicted. 

Video footage of the fire showed private security guards and INM officials failing to release the migrants from their cells after a protest against deportation led to a fire breaking out. Despite the evidence presented against Garduño, he is permitted to face the criminal process in freedom. 

Salvador González, the head of the INM in Chihuahua, was formally accused of homicide, causing injury and illicit exercise of public service on April 17. He is facing preventative detention along with five other INM agents, a private security guard and the migrant who allegedly started the fire. 

Mexico's INM director Francisco Garduño
The fate of INM director Francisco Garduño is uncertain after migrants were left inside a burning INM facility, though he remains in charge of the agency for the time being. (Gob MX)

The National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) has issued a number of recommendations to the INM, the Interior Ministry (Segob) and the Foreign Affairs Ministry (SRE) given the serious human rights violations that occurred.

All three agencies are responsible for the detention and care of migrants. Because Segob oversees the creation of the country’s immigration policy, the CNDH has requested improved supervision, control and verification mechanisms for all detention centers. 

The Commission has also asked for the creation of a national registry of migrants interned in such centers. 

For the SRE, the CNDH has recommended those in charge of its Interministerial Commission for Comprehensive Care in Migration Matters design a coordination and accountability strategy to guarantee respect for human rights. 

With reports from Infobae and Latinus

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