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'Social Cleansing' in Mexican Cities: Homeless People and Panhandlers Targeted by Police

Activists say the removal of homeless and poor people to places outside city limits violates their human rights.

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The CDHDF has received at least 65 complaints of abuse against street people since 2009.

“There have been limited actions and temporary programmes, but they have not made up for the absence of a public policy,” Pérez said.

Activists like Pérez have received threats because of their work, and will also ask the Commission to take special measures to protect them, said Hernández.

The Mexico City government of Mayor Marcelo Ebrard, of the leftwing Party of the Democratic Revolution, is preparing to implement an Information System for Street Populations, that will make it possible to monitor the care afforded these groups, and the Multidisciplinary Care Protocol for First Contact with Street Populations.

But experts criticise the way these programmes have been designed.

“The Protocol is merely palliative. It should have been the product of recognition of the successful efforts of NGOs. And why weren’t the street populations invited to take part as active participants?” asked Alicia Vargas, general director of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Social Development (CIDES), who will also be attending the hearing.

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed “concern at the still high number of street children” in Mexico, in its final observations in the 2006 report on Mexico’s compliance with the 1990 Convention on the Rights of the Child.

It said “insufficient measures” were taken by the government “to prevent this phenomenon and to protect these children,” and recommended the state “undertake regularly comparative studies on the nature and extent of the problem.”

In particular, the Committee, made up of 18 independent experts, regretted “the violence to which (street) children are subjected by the police and others.”

After the hearing, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights will analyse the information provided by the parties and issue recommendations for the Mexican state.

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