After tensions flare with migrant group, Tijuana police promise training on human rights

After Tijuana police arrested two organizers last week from a group that leads migrant caravans through Mexico, the secretary of public safety for the city agreed Friday to provide human rights training to officers.

Leaders of migrant rights group Pueblo Sin Fronteras, the organization that led the migrant caravan that gained international attention in April after it was heavily criticized by President Donald Trump, remain skeptical about whether that training will effect change in the police force.

Marco Antonio Sotomayor Amezcua, public safety secretary in Tijuana, said he has already instructed officers to adhere to and respect human rights during police interventions. He also promised to investigate any complaints made about officers.

Pueblo Sin Fronteras began questioning police arrests of Central American migrants last year, according to Alex Mensing, an organizer with the group. Mensing said those arrests happen without cause, and group members frequently go to police stations when they hear someone has been arrested in order to push for that person's release.

The group has helped 11 caravan members file complaints with the state human rights commission and two with the national commission regarding treatment by Tijuana police, Mensing said.

At the beginning of September, Pueblo Sin Fronteras marched against what they called Tijuana police's “daily abuse of power.”

On Tuesday evening, police arrested Irineo Mujica and Israel López, two Pueblo Sin Fronteras members who went to a police station after a 17-year-old Honduran teen was arrested while walking to a store.

Police said that they picked up the boy because they were concerned for his safety being out in that neighborhood at night. Organizers with Pueblo Sin Fronteras maintain that the arrest was part of a larger pattern of police targeting people who look like Central American immigrants as well as other groups that feel they have limited power to defend themselves.

Mujica and López went to the station to ask why the teen was in custody, Mensing said. Police arrested them, saying that they became violent with officers there, and charged them with resisting an officer.

Pueblo Sin Fronteras said that the officers were the ones who became violent, not Mujica and López.

“They didn’t like being questioned,” Mensing said. “They retaliated by using excessive force and arresting them for no reason and then accusing them of starting it.”

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