Mexico: Families of the disappeared “close” prosecutor’s office

INFOBAE August 6, 2022

Mexico City (AP). Relatives of the disappeared in Mexico blocked the headquarters of the Attorney General’s Office on Saturday afternoon and placed posters with the slogan “Closed.” They demand the creation of the National Forensic Data Bank that would help name the bodies distributed in graves and morgues in the country.

Shouting “Identification Now,” dozens of relatives reminded the authorities that, as established by law, such a database should already be working, yet it does not even exist.

According to federal government figures, Mexico has more than 100,000 disappeared, 98% of them since 2006, when the frontal war against the cartels began. In addition, with 52,000 unidentified deaths in the country, it is experiencing an urgent forensic crisis, and the solution is still pending.

According to the statement read by the relatives on Saturday, the federal prosecutor’s office is “failing in its obligation to concentrate the country’s forensic information, since it only has the genetic information of 15,000 bodies.” There is either no information, or it is scattered by the prosecutors’ offices from the 32 entities.

During the government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the National Search Commission was launched, and a temporary and independent entity was created with the support of the United Nations, which is expected to expedite the pending work. Crossing information is essential; for this, we need cooperation that does not exist between entities, as the federal government recognized.

However, the United Nations reported that one of the country’s main problems is that disappearances continue because of impunity.

Forced disappearances continue

El Sol de México / Alfredo Maza / July 27, 2022.

In the administration of President López Obrador, new cases of forced disappearances committed by security forces have emerged. According to a report published by the U.S. Congressional Research Service (CRS), disappearances were not resolved before this period.

According to the document “Mexico: attention to disappeared and unlocated persons,” only from January to June 2021, the National Commission of Human Rights (CNDH) received nine complaints of forced disappearance, while human rights defenders say that these cases are often underestimated.

In Mexico, according to the report, human rights organizations say victims “are even handed over to organized crime groups, who often hold them for ransom, extort them or use them for forced labor.”

The document also states that until now, Mexican authorities “did little to address the issue of enforced disappearances.” In 2017, Peña Nieto’s government passed a law on enforced disappearances “but did not ensure its implementation.”

In López Obrador’s administration, the CRS acknowledges that steps have been taken to address enforced disappearances. The document points out that amid the “forensic crisis,” the government has sought international help, receiving support from experts from the US, Argentina, and Austria, among others. In addition, it recognizes the creation of an Extraordinary Forensic Information Mechanism.

The document submits that “there are still significant gaps” and a series of obstacles that have prevented addressing disappearances, including inadequate funds and personnel in commissions and forensic laboratories; mishandling of corpses and case information; low political will, and insufficient access to DNA analysis.

The National Search Commission (CNB) counted more than one thousand 749 clandestine graves between December 2018 and July 2022 and identified one thousand 153 of the three thousand 25 bodies exhumed from these graves. Still, the Commission has only received small annual budget increases since 2020, which has caused “problems to searching for the disappeared people.”

Collective of mothers and families looking for the disappeared in Tamaulipas / Photo: El Sol de Tampico.