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Enforced disappearances are widespread
Latinamerica Press
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More than 22,000 persons were subjected to forced disappearance between 2006 and 2014.

The practice of enforced disappearance is widespread throughout the territory of Mexico and most cases remain unpunished, declared the United Nations Committee on Enforced Disappearances in a report released on Feb. 13.
“The information received by the Committee shows that widespread disappearances have taken place throughout the territory of the State Party, even after the Convention came into effect.  The serious case of the 43 students who were subjected to forced disappearance in September, 2014, in the state of Guerrero, demonstrates the serious challenges confronting the State Party in the areas of prevention, investigation and sanction of forced disappearances and the search for the disappeared persons,” stated the Committee.

On Feb. 2 and 3, the government of Mexico made its presentation on the measures it has adopted to comply with its obligations under the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance that came into effect in the country in 2010 after its ratification in 2008.

Rainer Huhle, the rapporteur for the case of Mexico, stated that an official count of disappeared persons does not exist.  “How many enforced disappearances are there?  We don’t know because the State has not provided us with that statistic, but we know that there are many, too many,” he said.

In the report’s conclusions and recommendations, the Committee declared its concern for “the lack of precise statistical information on the number of persons subjected to enforced disappearance, which impedes knowledge of the actual magnitude of this scourge and makes difficult the adoption of public policies that allow it to be combatted effectively.”

However, Amnesty International calculates that around 22,600 persons were disappeared between 2006 and 2014, according to Erika Guevara Rosas, Regional Director of Amnesty International for the Americas.  And of this number, half of the disappearances occurred between 2012 and 2014, during the present government of President Enrique Peña Nieto.

Rampant impunity
The Committee also expressed its concern “for the impunity with respect to the numerous cases denounced as enforced disappearances which is evident in the almost nonexistence of sentences for this crime.  The Committee also is concerned about the reports that relate a series of obstacles that impede investigations to be carried out in an effective manner, including: a) the fact that in various cases competent authorities have not initiated investigations with due speed immediately after receiving information about a possible enforced disappearance; and b) the classification of the facts taking into account other cases in which there are indicators that lead to the supposition that an enforced disappearance could have been committed.”

The recommendations include counting with a single national registry on forced disappearances, redoubling efforts towards preventing and investigating the disappearances of migrants crossing the Mexican territory on the way to the United States, and implementing scientific and forensic units to search for the disappeared persons.  Mexico will have a year to submit information about the implementation of these three points to the Committee.

In a statement, the Mexican government indicated that the conclusions of the Committee “did not adequately reflect the information presented by Mexico, nor did it affirm additional elements that reinforce the actions and commitments already being carried out to meet the above-mentioned goals. As it affirmed before the Committee, Mexico has a strong commitment to redouble its efforts towards transforming the manner in which the principles that should regulate the prevention, investigation and search for disappeared persons are formulated, recognized and applied towards the goal of complying with the ends that the Convention seeks.”

Civil society organizations, including the Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez  Human Rights Center, the Human Rights Center of Montaña Tlachinollan, the Fundar Center for Analysis and Research, Service and Consulting for Peace and the Mexican Institute of Human Rights and Democracy, stated in a declaration that the Committee’s recommendations to the Mexican state are crucial “in order to break the cycle of impunity in the Mexican context, where currently few investigations into serious human rights violations are often limited to the low-ranking, material perpetrator, and where the responsibility of diverse authorities lies in not acting to put an end to the context of abuses and collusion with organized crime.”
—Latinamerica Press.

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