UN rights expert urges US to probe migrant girl's death

Telegram från AFP / Omni
24 dec 2018, 17.40

A United Nations human rights expert called Monday for Washington to fully investigate the death of a seven-year-old Guatemalan girl in US Border Patrol custody.

"The US authorities must ensure that an in-depth, independent investigation of the death of Jakelin Amei Caal is conducted," the UN special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Felipe Gonzalez Morales, said in a statement.

UN rights experts are independent, serve in a voluntary capacity and do not speak for the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Jakelin Caal died earlier this month in hospital in El Paso, Texas, after being arrested with her father and others crossing from Mexico December 6.

Together they had travelled more than 3,000 kilometres from their hometown of Raxruha, Guatemala.

Joaquin Castro, a Democratic lawmaker from Texas who led a delegation looking into the death, said last week that there had a "systematic failure" in how Caal's condition was handled.

American media, citing US Customs and Border Protection, have reported that Caal died of "dehydration and shock."

"The government should also address failings within the immigration system, and specifically within the US Customs and Border Patrol agency, to prevent similar situations," the special rapporteur further said.

President Donald Trump has made hardline immigration policies a central plank of his presidency, drawing fire from critics who accuse him of demonising migrants for political gain.

Morales also expressed "great concern" about the discourse surrounding migrants in the US and said he had repeatedly contacted the authorities in Washington in hopes of starting a dialogue on the subject.