UN commission criticizes Mexico authorities for widespread disappearances

UN commission criticizes Mexico authorities for widespread disappearances

[JURIST] The UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances [official website] published a report Friday detailing [report, PDF, in Spanish] concluding observations on the large number of recent disappearances in Mexico. The report indicated that authorities are often involved [NYT report] in enforcing the disappearances of its citizens, most notably in the case of the disappearance and alleged massacre of 43 students [JURIST report] from a teacher-training college in Ayotzinapa, in the state of Guerrero. The commission also called for a probe [Reuters report] into Mexican authority involvement, as well as the prosecution of those authorities whose involvement is proven. Committee member Rainer Huhle told a news briefing that, “[t]he state has informed us that in contrast to the thousands of enforced disappearances that we assume … there are exactly six persons put to trial and sentenced for this crime.” The Mexican government has expressed to sources that it is committed to improving the way in which the country deals with citizen disappearances.

To date, there have been approximately 22,600 documented disappearances in Mexico. While the problem of disappearances is widespread in Mexico, no particular case has drawn more attention than that of the Ayotzinapa students. One of the first major breakthroughs in the case occurred in mid-November when Jose Luis Abarca, a former Mayor of Iguala, was charged [JURIST report] with homicide of the disappeared students. In late January Mexican authorities arrested [JURIST report] a hit man for the Guerreros Unidos gang, which is believed to be behind the murder of the disappeared students, along with 100 other people believed to be connected to the crime. Two days later Mexican officials issued final findings [JURIST report] on the case and declared that all the students were believed to be dead, even though DNA testing has only affirmatively confirmed the death of one. Mexico has faced much criticism from international actors on their efforts to resolve the problem of disappearances. Earlier this week Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] issued a statement urging [JURIST report] the Mexican government to adhere to UN recommendations on how to investigate the disappearances of its citizens. Earlier this month Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] urged US President Barack Obama [official profile] to press Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto [official profile, in Spanish] on human rights concerns during an upcoming meeting. Just last week AI released another criticism [JURIST report] of Mexico’s failed investigation of the Ayotzinapa student’s disappearance, calling it incomplete and insufficient.