Following the disappearance of more than 20 women in Nuevo León during the past month, Governor Samuel García announced Thursday the implementation of a protocol to expedite searches for missing women and girls.
At a press conference after a security meeting with state and federal officials, García said the Código Alba (Code Dawn) protocol would apply in the northern border state.
The protocol demands “an immediate reaction” when a person is reported as missing, not just from authorities but also from gas stations, hotels and many other civil organizations, he said.
The governor said that “we all have to go and look” for people reported missing. García also said the protocol has proven to be 98% effective in other places where it has been implemented.
It was first used in Ciudad Juárez – formerly Mexico’s femicide capital – in 2003 before being applied across Chihuahua. Several other states have also implemented the protocol.
According to the federal government, the objective of the Alba protocol – so named to emphasize the importance of searching for missing people from first light – is to carry out immediate searches for missing women and girls with the aim of protecting their lives.
It entails “a plan of attention and coordination between authorities of the three levels of government … [and] involves the media, civil society and public and private organizations throughout Mexico.”
García’s announcement came after the disappearance of 22 women in Nuevo León in the past month. One of those, María Fernanda Contreras, disappeared on April 3. Her body was found four days later in Apodaca, a municipality that is part of the Monterrey metropolitan area.
The impunity rates for crimes such as abduction and femicide are high, but a man accused of murdering Contreras was arrested Tuesday and remanded in preventative custody. He could be sentenced to 60 years in jail.
García also announced Thursday that new search centers, including a centralized state one, would be established and an additional 50 million pesos (US $2.5 million) would be allocated to combating the state’s enforced disappearance problem.
A range of authorities including the Nuevo León Attorney General’s Office, the State Search Commission and municipal governments will collaborate on missing persons cases, the governor said, explaining that their aim will be to locate abductees as soon as possible and apprehend the perpetrators.
He also said the Nuevo León government would collaborate with its counterparts in the neighboring states of Tamaulipas, Coahuila and San Luis Potosí.
In addition, García said government would seek to have people fielding 911 calls trained in issues related to gender violence and missing person cases.
“When there is a report by telephone, the first responder [should] be an expert person … who can act in the most important hour, the golden hour, which is the first hour after a report is made,” he said.