Tuesday, June 18, 2024

UN urges Mexico to protect activists searching for disappeared persons

The United Nations Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED) has urged the Mexican government to protect activists searching for disappeared persons. 

In a press release published Thursday, the UN condemned the July 11 attack on personnel from the Jalisco Attorney General’s office, which took place while they were investigating a clandestine burial site. The attack killed six people and injured 15 more. 

Protest at military base near Ayotzinapa teachers' college
While the 43 missing students from Ayotzinapa remain the most well-known example of disappearances in Mexico, there are up to 110,000 others who have also vanished. (Voices in Movement)

The CED has asked the Mexican government to immediately and exhaustively investigate those responsible for the attack. 

Following the tragedy, Jalisco governor Enrique Alfaro suspended searches for missing persons based on anonymous complaints, to which the CED responded that “searches and investigations are permanent obligations.” 

The UN statement follows another recommendation made last year by the committee following its visit to Mexico. In a report, the CED asked the government to establish a comprehensive protection program for authorities investigating forced disappearances and those searching for missing family members. 

According to the committee, there are more than 110,000 disappeared people in Mexico. Due to state inaction, victims’ families are often forced to undertake the searches themselves, often with the help of citizen collectives. However, such collectives are frequently targeted, with many members being kidnapped or killed. 

Missing people posters
Due to inaction by the state, the victims’ families are often forced to undertake searches for their missing loved ones, often through the help of citizen collectives. (Adolfo Vladimir/Cuartoscuro)

In August 2022, a missing persons activist was kidnapped and killed in Sinaloa after denouncing the inaction of authorities in searching for her missing son. A few months later, in October, a woman whose son and daughter were missing was shot and killed on the highway between Mexico City and Puebla after saying, “They have put a price on my head” to authorities. 

In Guanajuato, a state in which 864 people have gone missing since 2020, five individuals were killed attempting to find missing relatives over the last three years. In November, a dog ran through the city of Irapuato with a human leg in its mouth, leading missing persons collectives to find 53 bags of human remains. 

“Families deserve protection and justice not death or the misfortune of dying without knowing where their loved one is,” said Jesus Peña Palacios, the deputy head of the UN Human Rights Office in Mexico. “These murders must be stopped.” 

With reports from La Jornada

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