Mexico: UN experts concerned over impunity in cases of enforced disappearances

Credit: OHCHR

15 March 2012 – A group of independent United Nations human rights experts today called on the Mexican Government to develop effective measures to combat impunity in cases of enforced disappearances, which continue to take place in the country.

“There is a chronic pattern of impunity demonstrated by the absence of effective investigations in cases of enforced disappearances,” the UN Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances stated in a report that covers a mission carried out in March 2011 and was presented in Mexico City yesterday.

While noting the efforts made by Mexico in relation to human rights, the Group said that enforced disappearances have happened in the past and continue to occur, and require concerted action.

“The State must recognise the scale of the problem as a first step in developing comprehensive and effective measures to eradicate it,” it said.

“This challenging situation cannot be confronted if respect for human rights is ignored. Cases of enforced disappearances cannot be exclusively attributed to organized crime without appropriate and thorough criminal investigation.”

In its report, the Group examined the situation regarding enforced disappearance in Mexico, the legal and institutional framework and the right to justice, truth and reparations, as well as the reality faced by particularly vulnerable groups, such as migrants, women, human rights defenders and journalists.

It stated that Mexico faces “a complicated situation” in relation to public security due to the increase in violence. “Concerns in relation to public security with respect to organised crime are real and the Working Group recognises the right and the duty of the Mexican State to prosecute criminality.”

However, “this situation cannot be tackled at the expense of respect for human rights, or allowing the practice of enforced disappearances,” the Group stressed, adding that the military operatives deployed in the context of public security should be strictly limited and appropriately supervised by civil authorities.

Noting that “there is no comprehensive public policy and legal framework to deal with the different aspects of enforced disappearances,” the Group put forward 33 recommendations which cover prevention, investigations, sanctions, and reparations for victims of enforced disappearances, including the protection of particularly vulnerable groups.

The five-member Working Group was set up in 1980 to assist the relatives of disappeared persons to ascertain the fate and whereabouts of their disappeared family members. It consists of Olivier de Frouville, Chair-Rapporteur (France); Jeremy Sarkin (South Africa); Ariel Dulitzky (Argentina); Jasminka Dzumhur (Bosnia-Herzegovina) and Osman El-Hajjé (Lebanon).


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