Report: Mexico should be removed from refugee ‘safe’ list due to human rights abuses

Especially affected are members of the LGBTI  community and HIV positive Mexicans.
Especially affected are members of the LGBTI community and HIV positive Mexicans. (Photo: REUTERS/Henry Romero)

It’s World Refugee Day and a startling new report has just been released by the University of Toronto’s International Human Rights Program, which raises grave concerns about the treatment Mexico’s vulnerable communities receive at the hands of their government.

Especially affected are members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community and HIV positive Mexicans. The report insists that Canada should remove Mexico from the refugee ‘safe’ list, because of the serious mistreatment of these communities.

Says IHRP director Samer Muscati, “Mexico’s failure to investigate and hold perpetrators accountable for violent crimes against marginalized populations is completely at odds with Canada’s designation of the country as ‘safe’.”

What is the refugee ‘safe’ list?

The Harper government passed Bill C-31, called “Protecting Canada’s Immigration Systems Act” in 2012, and part of it was a designated “safe” country plan. The plan outlined that certain countries are considered safe for people, because they can provide “adequate” protections to their citizens, meaning refugee claims against these countries are less likely to succeed. Mexico was added to the list in 2013.

The report points out that “on paper”, Mexico’s government says it’s a human rights protector, when it is anything but for its sexual minorities and HIV positive communities.

The UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions reported that between 2005 and 2013 there were 555 homicides in Mexico aimed at individuals in the LGBTI community. HIV positive people in Mexico also face discrimination when trying to obtain treatment.

How did Mexico end up on the ‘safe’ list?

When Bill C-31 was first introduced, then-immigration minister Jason Kenney stated that part of the criteria for a safe country designation was “recognition of basic democratic rights and freedoms”.

While Mexico is considered a democratic country, being a democracy does not stop a country from committing human rights violations against vulnerable populations.

Assuming that democratic countries are safe for all is erroneous, and it leaves many refugee claimants unprotected.

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