More than 10,000 minors were murdered in Mexico between 2010 and 2017, according to a new report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Just over three-quarters of the 10,547 homicide victims were male — boys and teenagers, UNICEF México said in its 2018 annual report.
Issued yesterday, the report said that violence against minors is on the rise.
“We had an average of three [murders of minors] per day until around five or six years ago. Now, we have about four homicides [per day], according to government statistics, and that is very concerning, it’s serious,” UNICEF said.
Minors aged between 12 and 17 are most vulnerable to deadly violence, the report revealed, accounting for 78% of all homicides in the seven-year period.
UNICEF also said that at the end of 2017 around 20% of missing persons were minors and that girls and teenaged females made up 60% of that figure.
UNICEF representative Christian Skoog told a press conference yesterday that criminal groups prey on children and expose them to risks which in some cases cost them their lives.
“Children are used in illicit activities because they don’t have the same culpability [as adults] . . . That’s why they’re subject to being victims and are attracted by organized crime, because they cannot have the same culpability and that’s dangerous,” he said.
Testimony from a minor included in a report about the prosecution of children published by the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi) last month provided anecdotal evidence that cartels target children for the reason cited by the UNICEF official.
“They [criminal groups] recruit . . . minors because they get out [of juvenile detention centers] more quickly and they put them to work again,” said the minor, who was identified only as Hugo.
Judges cannot impose prison sentences on children younger than 14, the Inegi report said, and the maximum sentence for minors aged between 14 and 17 is five years’ imprisonment, even in the case of serious crimes such as armed robbery, rape and intentional homicide.
Hugo also said that cartels pay the legal fees for minors in trouble with the law and give money to their families, which acts as an incentive for them to stay within the ranks of organized crime.
Skoog urged authorities to “create opportunities” for vulnerable children – one in two Mexican children live in conditions of poverty, according to UNICEF – so that “they don’t have to join illicit activities and [succumb to] the influence of organized crime.”
However, he also noted that children are also increasingly becoming victims of violence in their own homes.
Statistics for 2019 show that children continue to lose their lives in large numbers as an epidemic of violence sweeps the country.
During the first quarter of this year, 285 minors were murdered, according to a report by the Network for Children’s Rights in Mexico (Redim).
Guanajuato recorded the highest number of homicides of minors, with 35, followed by Veracruz and Nuevo León, with 20 and 18 homicides respectively.
Redim said that for every 100 investigations into the murder of a minor, there is only one conviction.
It urged authorities to implement a strategy to combat violence against children that is supported by the full weight of the law and most importantly, sufficient funding.
Source: Milenio (sp)