Mexico: Prevention must be central to national policy to stop enforced disappearance, UN committee finds

Geneva, April 13, 2022.- Public agents and organised crime are responsible for Mexico’s soaring numbers of enforced disappearance, the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances said in findings published today. The Committee called for immediate actions to end absolute impunity and a national policy to prevent this human tragedy.

“Organized crime has become a central perpetrator of disappearance in Mexico, with varying degrees of participation, acquiescence or omission by public servants,” the Committee said in a report concluding its delegation’s visit* to Mexico in November.

“States parties are directly responsible for enforced disappearances committed by public officials, but may also be accountable for disappearances committed by criminal organizations,” the Committee stressed.

The report detailed recent trends, root causes and ongoing challenges of enforced disappearances.

There were 95,121 people registered as disappeared as of 26 November. Out of those, 112 disappearances were added during the Committee’s visit. According to the National Register of Disappeared Persons, there were 8,000 new cases each year in the past five years**. The Committee noted the importance of the National Register, which gives an insight into the scale of disappearances in Mexico.

“Disappearances continue to affect mostly men between 15 and 40 years old. However, official figures show a notable increase in disappearances of boys and girls from the age of 12, as well as of adolescents and women, a trend that worsened in the context of the coronavirus disease pandemic,” the Committee found. “Victims and authorities also reported disappearances for the purpose of trafficking and sexual exploitation.”

The Committee was concerned about the situation of human rights defenders, some of whom have been disappeared because of their participation in searches and fighting against disappearances. It was also concerned at the disappearances of more than 30 journalists between 2003 and 2021, none of them has been located.

During the visit, the Committee also heard allegations of disappearances that occurred in prisons and migration centres. The Committee noted the obstacles that hinder people deprived of their liberty to contact the outside world and inform about their whereabouts.

The Committee also received allegations that migrants illegally detained at unknown locations had their mobile phones taken by perpetrators who then demanded money from families, sometimes with the support or acquiescence of public servants.

The Committee found that the alarming trend of rising enforced disappearances was facilitated by the almost absolute impunity. As of November last year, only a very small percentage of cases of disappearance, between 2 and 6 per cent, had resulted in prosecutions, and there had been only 36 convictions handed down in cases at the national level.

“Impunity in Mexico is a structural feature that favours the reproduction and cover-up of enforced disappearances and creates threats and anxiety to the victims, those defending and promoting their rights, public servants searching for the disappeared and investigating their cases, and society as a whole,” the Committee said.

The Committee also expressed deep concern about the forensic crisis facing the country. According to public data, more than 52,000 unidentified deceased persons are lying in mass graves, forensic service facilities, universities and forensic storage and safeguard centres.

In addition, the Committee noted that, despite institutional and legal developments, the National Search Plan has not been implemented to carry out searches and investigations.

In its recommendations, the Committee identified measures that the State party should take to implement a national policy to prevent and eradicate enforced disappearances. It urged Mexico to strengthen the search and investigation processes, provide adequate human and financial support to the National Search Commission and local commissions, and ensure systematic and effective coordination of all institutions involved in the process of search, investigation, reparation and accompaniment to victims.

The Committee also called on Mexico to remove obstacles to prosecutions, give due attention to disappearances of migrants, and address the forensic crisis in the context of a National Policy for the prevention and eradication of enforced disappearances.

“In order for disappearance to cease to be the paradigm of the perfect crime in Mexico, prevention must be at the heart of national policy for the prevention and eradication of enforced disappearances”, the Committee concluded.

“Enforced disappearance in Mexico is a problem for everyone, the entire society, and all humanity as a whole,” The Committee reiterates its unwavering commitment to support the processes developed to prevent and eradicate this human tragedy.

The Committee’s full report on its visit to Mexico is now available online.

Deja una respuesta

Tu dirección de correo electrónico no será publicada.