A day after the 7-year-old girl’s small body returned to Guatemala in a coffin, a United Nations human rights expert demanded an independent probe into the death of Jakelin Caal while she was in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)—and made a broader call for the U.S. to stop its international law-violating practice of detaining children on the basis of their migratory status.
“The U.S. authorities must ensure that an in-depth, independent investigation of the death of Jakelin Ameí Caal is conducted,” Felipe González Morales, U.N. Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, said in a statement Monday.
Caal died earlier this month in Texas right after after being detained along with her father and over 160 other migrants at a border crossing in New Mexico. Her death prompted outrage, with the ACLU calling it a “tragedy” that “represents the worst possible outcome when children are held in inhumane conditions.”
“Access to justice for her relatives should be granted, including but not limited to having legal representation in the proceedings in a language they understand well,” González Morales said, and called on the U.S. to prevent similar tragedies.
Moreover, he added, “As repeatedly stated by a series of U.N. human rights bodies, detention of children based on their migratory status is a violation of international law.”
González Morales also expressed hope for being able to conduct an official visit to the United States, as that “would allow me to get first-hand, direct information about the situation of migrant children, especially on those who are being held in detention,” and would “allow me to present my recommendations to the U.S. government to fulfill its international commitments to respect and protect the human rights of all migrants.”
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