Mexico rights agency: migrants victimized by national guard

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MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission said Thursday that immigration agents and members of the National Guard violated the rights of migrants on a caravan that was pushed back at the border with Guatemala in January.

The governmental commission says the use of rocks, nightsticks and shields against the migrants constituted excessive use of force.

The commission said the guard should be given human rights training, and that the migrants involved should be granted compensation as victims. The commission's recommendations are not binding, but government agencies must explain why if they don't accept them.

The incident occurred during the last major attempt by Central American migrants to form a caravan to reach the United States in late January.

The mainly Honduran migrants attempted to wade across the Suchiate River from Guatemala, but faced a line of guard officers and immigration agents on the Mexican side of the river.

Some of the migrants scuffled with National Guard troops on the riverbank while others slipped through the lines and trudged off on a rural highway, with most taken into custody later in the day.

Still others were taken into custody on the spot or chased into the brush. Some migrants hurled rocks at the police and guards, who huddled behind their plastic shields and threw some of the rocks back.

The commission also said it was wrong for the guard officers to detain migrants, given that is the duty of the National Immigration Institute. Neither body had an immediate reaction to the commission's statement.

Historically, the commission does not comment on provocative acts by private individuals, because by law the commission is charged with judging the rights behavior of government employees, not members of the public.