Social Issues

Mexico’s missing exceed 100,000 amid impunity

Mexico City, May 16 (EFE).- The number of people reported as disappeared or missing in Mexico since 1964 have surpassed 100,000 amid alarming rates of impunity, experts told EFE.

“There are 100,000 people who are being looked for by their families, who are all over the country, because disappearances in Mexico are widespread. They are also disappearances that continue to happen, it is not a legacy of the past as it has been said,” María Luisa Aguilar, coordinator of the International Area of the Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Center A.C. (Center Prodh), said in an interview with EFE.

The 100,000 mark was surpassed on Monday, according to the National Registry of Disappeared or Missing Persons.

Nonprofits, which believe the actual figure is much higher, responded to this development on Tuesday by urging the government to tackle this issue.

The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on Tuesday expressed “deep sadness” for those recognized as disappeared in Mexico and “conveys his profound solidarity to the families of the victims who yearn to reunite with their loved ones, search for them tirelessly, and continue to fight for truth, justice, and guarantees that this will never happen again.”

The UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED) and the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances expressed grave concern about the growing number of people reported missing.

“More than 100,000 disappeared people officially registered in Mexico is a heart-breaking tragedy. The figure speaks for itself and is an unmistakable warning,” they said in a joint statement on Tuesday.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet also called on the Mexican authorities to step up efforts to ensure truth and justice for victims of disappearances.

“No effort should be spared to put an end to these human rights violations and abuses of extraordinary breadth, and to vindicate victims’ rights to truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-repetition,” Bachelet said.

In another statement, the International Committee of the Red Cross urged “more effective implementation of the immediate search mechanisms to increase their chances of finding their loved one alive.”

On Apr. 12, the CED published a report on its visit to Mexico between Nov. 15 and 26, during which 112 disappearances occurred.

The committee said that although organized crime was the “central perpetrator” of thousands of enforced disappearances registered every year in the country, there were “varying degrees of participation, acquiescence or omission by public servants.”

“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 Committee found that “the alarming trend of rising enforced disappearances was facilitated by the almost absolute impunity” with only a very small percentage of cases of disappearance, between 2-6 per cent, having resulted in prosecutions until November 2021.

Aguilar pointed out three main obstacles that families and the country face in tackling this situation.

The first is that the disappearances go hand in hand with the crisis of violence in Mexico, where 33,308 homicides were recorded in 2021, indicating that disappearances will not stop until the course of security policy throughout the country is changed.

The second is impunity. Only 35 convictions have been handed down in cases of disappearances in the country as opposed to the “alarming” figure of 100,000 missing persons. Changing this situation “is mainly in the hands of the public prosecutor’s offices” of the states, but also of the Prosecutor General’s Office, an institution that Aguilar does not see “pioneering a specific policy on disappearances.”

Finally, she highlighted the lack of a comprehensive perspective to frame policies.

A week ago, on May 10, Mother’s Day in the country, thousands of women marched in Mexico City, shouting “little to celebrate, much to demand” to urge Mexican authorities to expand their efforts in the search for and prevention of disappearances.

Mothers in cities across the country demonstrated against those who “took half their heart” in reference to their children who disappeared and many of whom are still missing. EFE

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