There are more than 30,000 unclaimed and unidentified bodies as well as an unknown number of skeletal remains in Mexico’s morgues, the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) said on Thursday.
There is “a crisis in the area of forensic identification,” the commission said, because morgues lack the resources, staff and equipment to properly examine the bodies they receive.
High homicide numbers during the past decade have contributed to the accumulation of the huge number of corpses. Many were found in hidden graves used by criminal organizations to dispose of the bodies of their victims.
Federal human rights undersecretary Alejandro Encinas said in February that Mexico is an “enormous hidden grave.”
The CNDH said that albums of photographs should be compiled when hidden graves are excavated in order to document clothing and other items that could aid in the identification of bodies.
Overcrowding at morgues has forced authorities in several cities to use refrigerated trailer containers to store unidentified bodies.
One trailer containing 157 bodies was left on a property on the outskirts of Guadalajara, Jalisco, last year, drawing the ire of local residents who complained of fetid odors. The state’s forensics chief was fired by then governor Jorge Sandoval Díaz over the case.
The Guadalajara morgue has left some unidentified bodies to decompose for as long as two years before autopsies were carried out. Others have buried corpses in common graves but some have faced criticism because they didn’t collect tissue samples first.
Adriana Michelle Álvarez Orozco, a 16-year-old who disappeared in Jalisco in November 2017, was left in the Lagos de Moreno morgue in Jalisco for almost two years without being identified.
Family members searched for the girl since her disappearance but had no luck finding her until October 12 when a woman, the mother of one of Álvarez’s friends, recognized her in a photo held by Jalisco authorities. The girl’s mother was notified and finally able to recover her body.
The National Search Commission said in January that there are 40,180 missing people in Mexico. The highest profile missing persons cases is the 2014 disappearance of 43 teaching students in Iguala, Guerrero.
The federal government established a truth commission to conduct a new investigation into the case and has carried out extensive search operations but Encinas said on the fifth anniversary of the students’ disappearance that there had been no “positive findings.”
Source: The Associated Press (sp)