Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Impunity for homicides and femicides remains sky-high, new report finds

Impunity for serious crimes — a scourge President López Obrador says he is committed to eliminating — remains rife in Mexico.

The perpetrators of the vast majority of homicides committed between 2016 and 2021 and more than half the femicides weren’t convicted in that period, a non-governmental organization said in a new report.

Only 7.2% of homicides committed in the last six years resulted in convictions, Impunidad Cero (Zero Impunity) said in a report published Thursday, meaning that the “accumulated impunity” rate for the crime in a period in which well over 200,000 murders were recorded was 92.8%.

The organization used official data to calculate impunity rates for both homicide and femicide — the killing of a woman or girl on account of their gender.

The impunity rate for femicides during the last six years was 56.6%, meaning that only about four in ten perpetrators of that crime were arrested, convicted and sentenced in the period.

“Less than half of recorded femicide cases have concluded with a conviction since the [new accusatory] criminal justice system began operating,” Impunidad Cero said.

An average of about 10 women are killed everyday in Mexico, but only two of every 10 murders of women were classified as femicides last year.

The perpetrators of many homicides and femicides are never arrested, while suspects who are detained sometimes spend years in jail without facing trial. The failure to arrest murderers in many cases and delays in holding trials both contributed to the high impunity rates in the period analyzed by Impunidad Cero.

Mario Escobar holds missing person flyers with his daughter, Debanhi's name and image.
Mario Escobar holds missing person flyers with his daughter, Debanhi’s name and image. After Debanhi’s body was found, a femicide investigation was opened but no suspects have been detained. (File photo)

Sixteen of the 32 federal entities recorded impunity rates for homicide that were higher than the national rate in the 2016-21 period, according to the Impunidad Cero report. The rate in Oaxaca was a shocking 100%, while Morelos, Tlaxcala and Colima recorded “accumulated impunity” rates above 99%.

Oaxaca also had a 100% impunity rate for femicides, as did Tlaxcala. Chihuahua and Colima were the only other states with rates above 90%, but four others — Puebla, Morelos, Guerrero and Tabasco — had rates higher than 80%.

“One of the main causes for the alarming levels of impunity in the country is the weak capacity of authorities to investigate and solve crimes,” Impunidad Cero said.

In the introduction to its report, the organization said that “homicides and femicides are a reflection of the extreme violence that affects Mexican society.”

“Mexico is among the countries with the highest homicide rates in Latin America, with … 28 victims for every 100,000 residents. In 2021 alone, 94 victims of homicide were recorded daily, and 10 women were murdered every day. It’s the responsibility of the state to prioritize the investigation of homicides, with a gender perspective, and to impose criminal responsibilities and the corresponding convictions,” Impundidad Cero said.

A “zero impunity” segment in which a senior security official details arrests and convictions of criminals is a regular feature of López Obrador’s weekday morning press conferences, but the figures included in the Impunidad Cero report emphasize that Mexico is nowhere near close to combating its impunity problem.

Countless other reports, including ones by Human Rights Watch and the U.S. Department of State, have detailed the problem.

Maureen Meyer, a senior official with the Washington Office on Latin America, said in August that one of the reasons why there is so much violence in Mexico is impunity.

“You can kill someone with impunity because there are no consequences,” she said.

With reports from Reforma 

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