Mexico: rights commission says 5,397 "disappeared" since 2006
Mexico's National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) issued a report finding that 5,397 have been reported missing across the country since President Felipe Calderón launched his war on the drug cartels in 2006. The CNDH analyzed data provided by relatives and by state authorities on cases of those "reported missing or absent." The commission said 3,457 of those disappeared were men and 1,885 women, while this data was unavailable in the remaining 55 cases. The figure includes ransom kidnappings, as well as migrants whose whereabouts are unknown. (BBC News, EFE, April 2)
The CNDH figures were released just days after the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) said it had received reports of several cases of forced disappearances allegedly carried out by Mexican soldiers. The WGEID made a series of recommendations to the Mexican government on prevention, investigation, punishment and reparation in cases of forced disappearances. Three members of the five-member body—Jasminka Dzumhur of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ariel Dulitzky of Argentina and Osman El Hajjé of Lebanon—visited Mexico from March 18 to 31 to conduct their investigation.
The group of independent experts emphasized a lack of a comprehensive public policy to deal with the issue. "It appears that there is no vertical and horizontal coordination among federal, local and municipal levels nor within the same level of government," they found.
WGEID recognized the right and duty of the state to fight organized crime but asserted that "addressing this challenging situation cannot be done at the expense of respect for human rights or condone the practice of enforced disappearance. Nor can cases of enforced disappearance be exclusively attributed to organized crime without proper and full criminal investigation."
The Working Group also noted that victims of forced disappearances lack confidence in the authorities: "Impunity is a chronic and present pattern in cases of enforced disappearances and no sufficient efforts are being carried out neither to determine the fate or whereabouts of persons who disappeared, to punish those responsible nor to provide reparations." (UN Human Rights Council, April 1)