Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

September 26, 2018

International Human Rights Body Convenes Hearing to Examine the United States Failure to Facilitate the Identification of Missing Migrants

Remembering migrants who died crossing the  Sonoran Desert, at San Xavier, Tohono O'odham Nation. Photo by Brenda Norrell.
French translation by Christine Prat at:
September 26, 2018
Forensic Border Coalition

International Human Rights Body Convenes Hearing to Examine the United States Failure to Facilitate the Identification of Missing Migrants
Boulder, Colorado – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) will convene a hearing on the identification of the remains of migrants who disappeared along the United States border. Forensic scientists, human rights experts, and family members of missing migrants will provide testimony and answer questions at the hearing. Representatives of the Unites States government are also expected to be present. The hearing will take place on Friday, October 5th, 2018, at 10:15 a.m. at the University of Colorado Law School.
Every year, hundreds of migrants from the Central America-Mexico-U.S. migration corridor disappear after crossing the border into the United States. The Forensic Border Coalition (FBC), a group of forensic scientists, scholars, and human rights partner organizations, investigates missing persons reports and uses forensic science to facilitate the identification of the human remains of migrants and provide some closure for their loved ones. The FBC requested this hearing to call for increased U.S. cooperation with this effort through a formalized mechanism for large-scale, transnational crossing of genetic information from unidentified remains.
Currently, the cross-border comparison of genetic information from family members looking for a missing loved one with genetic information from unidentified remains found in the U.S. is done primarily on a case-by-case basis—a body is found and is compared against a specific family based on circumstantial information or other attributes. A large-scale comparison— comparing all available DNA information from relatives of missing migrants against all DNA data from unidentified remains found on U.S. soil, has not been done. The FBC will be arguing for the creation of a formalized process to allow such large-scale comparisons, which should yield a significant number of matches and identifications, allowing hundreds, if not thousands, of families to finally know the fate of their missing loved ones.

The FBC's hearing is being supported by over 46 human rights groups and other entities from the U.S., Mexico, and Central America, including the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (Equipo Argentino de Antropología Forense, EAAF), Colibrí Center for Human Rights, South Texas Human Rights Center, The Forensic Anthropology Center at Texas State, the Human Rights Law Clinic (IHRLC)-UC Berkeley School of Law, Fundación para la Justicia y el Estado Democrático de Derecho (FJEDD), Procurador de los Derechos Humanos (PDH) de Guatemala, Procuraduría para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos (PDDH) – El Salvador, several committees representing families of missing migrants in Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico, U.S.-based immigrant and refugee rights groups and more.
Immediately following the hearing, FBC will be hosting a vigil for missing migrants on the University of Colorado campus. Speakers will include families of missing migrants, members of the FBC, and more.
Information on the hearing:
Hearing Name: Identification of the Remains of Migrants Disappeared Along the United States Border
When: October 5th, 2018, 10:15 – 11:15 a.m.
Where: "Schaden Commons" room, Wolf Law Building, 401 UCB, 2450 Kittredge Loop Road, Boulder, CO
It is not necessary for press to pre-register for the event. For more Information, see here.
If you are unable to attend the hearing, the IACHR will be broadcasting live on its website.
About the Forensic Border Coalition
The Forensic Border Coalition (FBC) was established in the Spring of 2013. The coalition is comprised of forensic scientists, scholars, and human rights partner organizations working to comprehensively address the significant barriers to identifying the remains of missing migrants found on the U.S.- Mexico Border. The mission of the FBC is to support the families of missing migrants searching for their loved ones and to work to improve problems related to investigating and identifying the remains of those who die while traveling through the dangerous terrain of the southern U.S. border region.

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