U.N. Committee issues report on Mexico’s disappearances


Parents of the 43 disappeared Ayotzinapa students testify at UN committee hearing

Parents of the 43 disappeared Ayotzinapa students testify at UN committee hearing.

By: Afp and Dpa (agencies)

Geneva. The UN Committee against Enforced Disappearances [1] recommended to Mexico the creation of a “an attorney general’s unit specialized in investigating forced disappearances,” an opinion published this Friday in Geneva points out.

Said unit would have to function “within the ambit of the Attorney General of the Republic (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR)” and count “on personnel specifically qualified,” as well as having “a strategic perspective at the national and transnational level” that nourishes “the work of searching,” the opinion adds.

México should “redouble its efforts” for attacking the problem of the “generalized” disappearances that the country experiences, the committee asked (of Mexico), after examining the Mexican case in the context of the disappearance and alleged murder of the 43 students.

“The grave case of the 43 students subjected to forced disappearance in September 2014 in the State of Guerrero illustrates the serious challenges that the State faces in matters of prevention, investigation and sanction of forced disappearances and the search for those disappeared,” it added.

On February 2 and 3, the UN committee examined Mexico within the framework of obligations emanated from the international convention against the forced disappearances and today it emitted a document with 50 points where it details its concerns and recommendations.

The ten independent experts that make up the Committee elaborated the opinion, which examined the case of Mexico at the beginning of this month.

The UN also asks for the creation of “a single registry of disappeared persons at the national level that permits establishing trustworthy statistics with views to developing holistic and coordinated policies directed to preventing, investigating, sanctioning and eradicating this aberrant crime.”

This registry is a demand that civil society made in Geneva during the summons of the Mexican government recently.

For the UN, the registry would have to “exhaustively and adequately reflect all the cases of disappeared persons, including information about sex, age and nationality of the disappeared person the place and date of disappearance,” and “including information that permits determining if it deals with a enforced disappearance or with a disappearance committed without any participation of state agents.”

The Committee also exhorts, that the registry contain “statistical data with respect to cases of forced disappearance even when they have been clarified” and “be completed based on clear and homogeneous criteria and updated permanently.”

It also asked for advancing “quickly” in the legislative process so that a law on enforced disappearances is adopted for all of the country, with the participation of the civil society organizations and the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH, its initials in Spanish). Mexico has pointed out that it hopes that that law is ready for June.

At the same time, it lamented the impunity that persists in numerous cases of enforced disappearance.

The Committee added that: “it notes with concern the lack of precise statistical information on the number of persons subjected to enforced disappearance, which impedes knowing the true magnitude of this scourge and makes it difficult to adopt public policies that permit fighting it effectively.”

Around 24,000 persons have disappeared in Mexico from 2006 to this date, sources from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) agree.

The Committee also referred to the enforced disappearances recorded in the decade of the 1970s during what’s called the “dirty war” and the absence of “significant advances” in the investigations, as well as the disappearance of migrants, many time with the participation of authorities, on their way through Mexico to the United States.

It also recommended that the cases of enforced disappearance of military personnel on the part of other military personnel be the exclusive jurisdiction of civilian tribunals, and not of military justice, to guaranty impartiality.

Mexico will have until February 13, 2016 (one year) to give the Committee information about the application of the points referring to the single list of disappeared persons, mechanisms for search, prevention and investigation of the disappearance of migrants.

Besides, it set February 13, 2018 as the time limit for offering “concrete and updated information about the application of all its recommendations.”

Translator’s Note on the definition of Enforced Disappearance

[1] “For the purposes of this Convention, “enforced disappearance” is considered to be an arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the State or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, which place such a person outside the protection of the law.”

Source: International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CED/Pages/ConventionCED.aspx


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Translation: Chiapas Support Committee

Friday, February 13, 2015



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