UN Committee in Mexico to Investigate Disappeared Persons

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With more than 24,500 people reported missing during the first three years of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) six-year term, and a total of more than 94,000 missing persons with no explanation as to their whereabouts, the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED) sent a select team of researchers on an official visit to Mexico on Monday, Nov. 15, to investigate the growing situation.

The UN visit constitutes the first of its kind to any nation in the world by the CED and is slated to last 13 days.

While in Mexico, the CED team, led by the committee’s president, Carmen Rosa Villa Quintana, will meet with groups of relatives of disappeared persons in 12 different states, including Guanajuato, Nuevo León, Tamaulipas, Morelos, Nayarit and Mexico City.

The UN experts are also slated to participate in searches for missing persons, and have asked to meet with senior authorities from Mexico’s judiciary, the Attorney General’s Office (FGR) and the Armed Forces.

Since 2013, the CED has asked Mexico repeatedly to be allowed to carry out the visit, but the government of former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto refused, arguing that it would imply serious violations of Mexican sovereignty.

During the current administration, the visit was allowed by the Interior Secretariat’s (SeGob) human rights office, despite fierce opposition from the Secretariat of Foreign Relations (SRE).

Karla Quintana, head of Mexico’s National Search Commission (CNB), said that the UN experts will find “a crisis in terms of justice, as well as a lack of political will to deal with these disappearances.”

“There have been discrepancies in relation to the obligations of the searches, not only with the Prosecutor’s Office, but in general,” she said.

“One thing is public policy, but another is the daily operations of justice in the country, where there is a lack of willingness at all levels to put emphasis on the search and in human identification. ”

Grace Fernández, from the Movement for Our Disappeared in Mexico, added that the UN specialists will find in Mexico a “nation of graves, but no answers from the government.”

Of the 1,130 urgent actions that the CED issued between 2012 and last April, 424 were for cases in Mexico, second only to Iraq, which had 492 cases.

The CED conducted a remote evaluation of Mexico in 2015 and a follow-up in 2018, but despite this international pressure, the number of  disappearances in the country have continued to rise.


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