Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Immigration agents investigated for using electric shock device on migrant

Immigration agents are being investigated for using an electric shock device on a Cuban migrant accused of rape on Monday, after videos of the detention circulated on social media.

The arrest was filmed in Ciudad Hidalgo, Chiapas, a town on the Guatemala border which is a focal point for border crossings by undocumented migrants.

In the video, two male National Immigration Institute (INM) agents are seen cornering the migrant. One agent had his hand around the back of the migrant’s neck and his other hand pulling the migrant’s t-shirt down by the collar.

The migrant twice shouted, “Let go of me,” before the other agent appeared to shock him with the device for about one second. The man screamed, but remained on his feet. The device was not visible but the sound of it being used was audible.

“If he has his papers why don’t you ask for them?” a person off camera shouted to the agents.

“He’s a rapist,” an agent replied.

A group of at least four migrants loudly protested the agents’ actions and told them they were being filmed. One migrant pushed an official after the shock was applied.

A third male INM agent attempted to restrain the migrant after the device was used.

The INM released a statement on Tuesday saying that an internal investigation had been opened to identify the agents involved in the incident.

The statement added that electric shock devices were not a tool available to its agents. The INM “does not include among its equipment, work tools or in its action guidelines the use of electric shock devices, such as the one that was apparently used … The INM condemns and regrets any act contrary to the law, especially if it is carried out or committed by an authority … The INM respects and safeguards the rights of migrants,” it said.

More than 4,000 migrants crossed the southern border every day in 2021 on average, a 44.5% increase over 2020, the INM said in December.

Detentions increased nearly threefold in Chiapas in annual terms last year: in 2020 there were 25,000 detentions, compared to 67,376 in 2021.

Illegal migrants crossing the southern border are generally arrested by INM agents and sent to prison-like migrant detention centers for an indeterminate period where armed police in watchtowers ensure they do not attempt to escape. They are otherwise told to go to Tapachula’s Olympic Stadium, a refugee camp where they are provided no humanitarian services and there are no immigration officials.

With reports from Sopitas

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