UN Report: Mexico Disappearances on Rise, Impunity Almost Absolute

Photo: Washington Office on Latin America


Mexico must act immediately to curb an alarming trend of increased enforced disappearances, egged on by “almost absolute impunity” and often involving public officials, a United Nations committee said Tuesday, April 12.

A rise in organized crime and a plethora of corrupt state officials are helping to spur Mexico’s skyrocketing number of enforced disappearances — whose victims increasingly include children, some as young as 12 years old — according to a new report presented by the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED).

According to the report, which was based on an in situ investigation conducted by a CED team late last year, more than 95,000 Mexicans were registered as “disappeared” as of the end of November 2021.

Nearly half of the missing — roughly 40,000 — were added to the rosters over the course of the past five years, the CED said.

“Organized crime has become a central perpetrator of disappearance in Mexico, with varying degrees of participation, acquiescence or omission by public servants,” the report stated flatly, noting that during the 11-day CED visit last November, 112 new disappearances were added to the registry.

The CED said that impunity “remains the norm” in Mexico and is helping to drive the number of disappearances higher.

“Just 2 percent to 6 percent of the disappearances have resulted in prosecutions, with only 36 convictions handed down at the national level,” it said.

“Impunity in Mexico is a structural feature that favors the reproduction and cover-up of enforced disappearances and creates threats and anxiety for the victims, those defending and promoting their rights, public servants searching for the disappeared and investigating their cases, and society as a whole.”

Although men between the ages of 15 and 40 are still the most common victims, the report said that there has been “a significant increase in disappearances” of children, adolescents and women.

The report likewise pointed out that journalists and civil society groups working to expose the problem have also been targeted.

“Of the 30 or more journalists who disappeared between 2003 and 2021, none has been located” it said.

“Some human rights defenders have been disappeared because of their participation in searches and fighting against disappearances.”


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