MEXICO

Video: Disabled migrant allegedly abused by Mexican police

“Even in the United States, they don’t treat them like that!” New amateur footage shows a group of officers from Mexico's migration agency as they appear to abuse a disabled migrant in front of shocked onlookers. The incident reportedly took place on May 19 in the Mexican state of Querétaro. The undocumented man travelled from Honduras to Mexico, despite the fact that he relies on prosthetic legs to walk.

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Screen grab of video below.

“Even in the United States, they don’t treat them like that!” New amateur footage shows a group of officers from Mexico's migration agency as they appear to abuse a disabled migrant in front of shocked onlookers. The incident reportedly took place on May 19 in the Mexican state of Querétaro. The undocumented man travelled from Honduras to Mexico, despite the fact that he relies on prosthetic legs to walk.

"Look, he doesn't have any feet! Leave him alone, don't hit him! You're hitting a disabled person, I saw you!" shouts a man, witness to the scene yet powerless to do anything to stop it. A woman asks "what's your problem?" before adding "we're going to press charges, you can't do that! He's a human being, would you like to be treated like that?"

Despite the cries of onlookers, agents from Mexico's National Institute of Migration (INM) - backed up by local police officers - attempt to force the Honduran migrant into a van. The migrant was stopped on Avenue Santa Cruz in San Juan del Rio, where he was begging to continue his journey to the United States. While lying on the ground with a bloodied face, he sobs and can be heard screaming: "They're hitting me!"

A few minutes later, an agent grabs two prosthetic legs and a backpack that had been lying on the ground. "Leave his belongings alone!" shouts a nearby witness. At the end of the video, the undocumented migrant sits on the ground, surrounded by INM agents.

This video was filmed by an eyewitness in San Juan del Rio, in Querétaro state, Mexico.

You never see the police or officials actually hitting the migrant in the video. But his cries, along with those of witnesses, was enough to push INM and the government's National Council to Prevent Discrimination (Conapred) into opening an investigation to shed light on any possible abuses carried out by agents. Conapred has also asked INM to track down the migrant to "guarantee his physical and psychological well-being".

But this is far from the first time law and order officials have been accused of abusing migrants. Four months ago, two police officers reportedly arrested a migrant before extorting money from him. According to Martín Martínez - president of 'Estancia del Migrante Gonzalez y Martinez', an NGO that supports migrants - the incident happened in Santiago de Querétaro, also in Querétaro state.

Every year, roughly 500,000 undocumented migrants mainly from Central America cross Mexico's southern border to try and reach the United States, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

The trip is hugely expensive and full of perils aside from the danger of reinforced police checkpoints. Migrants often fall victim to theft, violence and gangs that kidnap them in order to extort ransoms from their families. Some are sexually abused. Every year, dozens of migrants die or are severely injured when they fall from goods trains that carry them across Mexico.

This post was written with France 24 journalist Chloé Lauvergnier (@clauvergnier).