Recommendations for US Government Action: Smart Responses to Increased Migration from Central America

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Reducing impunity and violence; strengthening the rule of law

  • Provide resources and technical assistance for shelters for girls and women victims of violence and strengthen and expand States’ and localities’ capacity to respond to and sanction violence against women and girls. Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador struggle with endemic levels of intra-familial violence and have grappled with a sharp and disproportionate increase in the murder rate of women and girls. Additional programming is needed to improve investigation and prosecution of femicide and sexual violence. In Honduras, only one shelter is currently functioning; the two other shelters in the country have compromised security mechanisms. For women and girls fleeing forced sexual encounters with gangs, a swiftly expanding phenomenon in Honduras, none of the shelters in- country are sufficiently secure to offer protection. In Guatemala, approximately 61% of victims of sex crimes reported between 2007 and 2011 were 17 or younger. Gender discrimination, lack of resources, and lack of training – for law enforcement, hospitals, and courts – result in neglect of cases, improper collection of evidence, lack of investigation, and extremely high rates of impunity for perpetrators.
  • Provide support and assistance to crime victim and witness protection systems. Mechanisms for offering protection, safety, and shelter for crime victims, including providing for the personal security of witnesses to crimes committed by organized criminal enterprises and police, must be enhanced throughout the region. Investing in such mechanisms will allow witnesses and crime victims to participate in justice processes while staying in their countries of origin.
  • Invest in community-based comprehensive youth violence prevention strategies. Programs like the Paso y Paso social education program in San Pedro Sula, Honduras and the Puente Belice Program in Guatemala are being pioneered in cities struggling with some of the highest levels of violence in the world. In Los Angeles, California and Santa Tecla, El Salvador such programs have yielded verifiable reductions in youth violence and victimization. Evaluations show declines in homicides and gang crimes in Los Angeles over four years, and Santa Tecla, which started its program in 2003, has a 40% lower homicide rate than other surrounding communities.

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Rally at the White House: Fighting for Central American Minors and Their Families

On Monday July 7th, GHRC was present at a rally in support of the Central American children detained at the US border as well as their families. Since last October, nearly 60,000 minors have been detained. Young migrants face a variety of push and pull factors that motivate them to make what is frequently a perilous journey to the US, and a significant number are fleeing violence in their home countries.

Once they are detained, children face being held in uncomfortable and overcrowded Border Patrol facilities. They must navigate their removal process without the right to an appointed counsel or child advocate and face being repatriated back to the potentially dangerous situation they initially fled from. Monday’s rally served as an opportunity to show solidarity with these young people and their families, as well as to appeal to the US government to prioritize the best interests and welfare of minors who have entered the country irregularly.

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