There are now 37,435 missing persons in Mexico, according to the Interior Secretariat (Segob), 40% more than the number reported in 2014.
Investigations for the vast majority of cases (36,265) are considered the responsibility of state authorities and of that figure, just five states account for more than half of all disappearances.
Tamaulipas is the worst affected, with almost 6,000 unsolved missing persons cases, followed by the state of México with 3,890, Jalisco with 3,362, Sinaloa with 3,027 and Nuevo León 2,895.
The statistics were compiled by the National Public Security System (SNSP) — an administrative organ of Segob — and include cases still unresolved as of April 30.
The figure is just over 15,000 higher than the 22,322 missing persons that federal officials reported in August 2014 and almost 4,000 more than the number of cases reported in June last year.
At the end of 2017, the official National Register of Disappeared and Missing Persons indicated that the fate or whereabouts of 33,482 people remained unknown.
But an international human rights group suspects the numbers are in fact higher.
Amnesty International said in January that “the actual numbers are probably higher because the official figures exclude federal cases that occurred before 2014 and cases classified as other criminal offenses such as hostage-taking or human trafficking.”
It also said that “investigations into cases of missing persons continue to be flawed and authorities generally fail to immediately initiate searches for the victims.”
Cases under investigation by federal authorities have also risen during recent years to the current figure of 1,170, with just three states accounting for 60% of the total.
Guerrero has the highest number of unresolved investigations, with 325, including the 43 teaching students from Ayotzinapa who disappeared in the city of Iguala on September 26, 2014.
Veracruz has the second highest number of cases under investigation by the federal Attorney General’s office (PGR), with 207, followed by Tamaulipas, with 141.
Security forces operating in all three states have been suspected of perpetrating enforced disappearances.
An investigation by Amnesty International determined that police in Chilpancingo forcibly disappeared five young men in the last week of December.
Journalists, activists, international experts, victims’ relatives and members of the general public have also questioned the role of the army in the disappearance of the 43 students.
In Veracruz, the state government has formally accused four high-ranking former security officials and 15 police officers of the forced disappearances of 15 people during the administration of ex-governor Javier Duarte.
More recently, the United Nations (UN) said last month that there are “strong indications” that federal security forces were responsible for the disappearance of 23 people, including at least five minors, in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, between February and March this year.
Victims’ family members have claimed that the navy was involved. The day after the UN released its report, the PGR announced it would investigate the disappearances.
Of the total number of missing persons, statistics show that six out of every 10 disappeared persons are aged between 15 and 39.
The highest number of missing persons cases corresponds to the 15-19 age bracket, followed by 25-29 and 20-24. Together they account for 14,649 cases or 39% of the total.
There are also 530 missing children aged up to four years, just over 500 missing five to nine-year-olds and almost 2,000 disappeared persons aged between 10 and 14.
Around three-quarters of the missing persons are male and most cases correspond to Mexican nationals, but there are also 384 missing foreigners and a further 2,056 cases where the origin of the disappeared person is not specified.
The number of missing persons has continued to rise this year despite President Enrique Peña Nieto promulgating the General Law on Forced Disappearances in November.
The law was designed to better fund and improve search efforts for the thousands of people across Mexico who have been reported as missing or forcibly disappeared and was backed by an initial 500-million-peso budget (US $25 million at today’s exchange rate).
Source: Vanguardia (sp)