It’s been a bad week for the government with regards to human rights. A charge of “ethical bankruptcy” of civil servants was followed by the news that the number of secret, mass graves has been counted: the total came to 855 found in the last 10 years.
The count was carried out by the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH), which revealed yesterday that those secret burial grounds contained 1,548 bodies.
But the number is lower than that obtained through another separate tally undertaken by the commission. The count of 855 graves came from data obtained through a freedom-of-information request it made to the country’s 32 states — with which six did not comply.
So in order to compile a more comprehensive tally for a special report on forced disappearances and mass graves, the CNDH collected information published by the news media between January 1, 2007 and September 2016.
The new figure found there were 1,143 mass graves containing 3,230 bodies in 30 states.
The CNDH also counted the total number of missing persons reports filed during the last 20 years and came up with 57,861. Of those, 32,236 remain open.
A commission inspector said disappearances challenge the abilities and resources of the Mexican state. Ismael Eslava Pérez also warned of the existence of a structural problem in the institutional design and the performance of different government agencies, which prevents them from making the progress desired.
Eslava’s comments came a week after the human rights ombudsman presented the commission’s annual report at an event in Los Pinos, the official residence and office of President Enrique Peña Nieto.
In his report, Luis Raúl González Pérez said that during 2016 authorities at all three levels of government were unable to guarantee respect for and compliance with human rights.
In some parts of the country, González declared before Peña Nieto, not even the minimum security conditions existed that would enable people to live together in peace.
The ombudsman said issues such as corruption, impunity and accountability are key obstacles on the road to guaranteeing full respect for the rights of the Mexican people.
“Whether due to bureaucratic inefficiencies or the ethical bankruptcy of public servants, the truth is that this situation has bolstered the societal perception that law abidance and enforcement is a discretionary affair,” said González.
Ongoing and increasing cases of torture, forced disappearances and extrajudicial executions have continued thanks to the poor training and apathy of government officials, he continued.
González pointed to the work done by the relatives of the disappeared, who by starting their own searches have turned up a large number of mass graves, “tracing an authentic geography of pain and indifference in our country.”
During 2016, the CNDH issued 72 recommendations over rights violations to 55 government figures or agencies, up 20% over the previous year.
The five agencies that received the most recommendations were the Social Security Institute with 15, the Secretariat of the Navy with 7, the federal Attorney General’s office and the National Security Commission six each and the Defense Secretariat with five.
Only two of the 72 recommendations have been fully complied with; 54 have been partially met and 14 have been received without any proof of compliance.
González reprimanded government agencies not only for failing to comply with the CNDH’s recommendations, but also for the long delays in doing anything with them.