Tue, Feb 03, 2015 - Page 7 News List

Commission describes Mexico’s ‘serious problem’ with disappearances to the UN

AP, MEXICO CITY

Relatives and protesters on Monday last week carry pictures of some of the 43 students who went missing during a march in Mexico City on Sept. 26 last year.

Photo: AFP

Mexico has a “serious problem” with disappearances and lacks a comprehensive national list of the missing to effectively deal with the problem, according to a report that the nation’s human rights commission was to present yesterday to the UN.

Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission chairman Luis Raul Gonzalez Perez would ask the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances in Geneva to make several recommendations to Mexico’s government on the issue, said the document, which reporters were allowed to see.

According to official figures, there are 23,271 people missing or not located in Mexico, of which 621 are being sought by Mexico’s federal attorney general’s office’s search unit.

The numbers were provided by the office’s general prosecutor for human rights Eliana Garcia on Jan. 19 to a forum in the Chamber of Deputies.

However, in its report, the human rights commission says there are no clear criteria for establishing how many people are missing and stresses that the “impunity” surrounding forced disappearances in the 1970s and 1980s created the conditions for the crime to continue being committed today, as can be seen with the 43 students who disappeared in September in southern Guerrero state.

Gonzalez Perez said officials need to systemize and debug various existing databases because there is no “effective, comprehensive and transparent national” registry that would allow officials to know the real number of people who have disappeared in Mexico.

The commission plans to ask that authorities in Mexico continue the search for clandestine graves, identify the bodies found in them and create a unified system for building a reliable national list of the disappeared with a genetic registry. It is also set to call on Mexican lawmakers to complete pending legislation related to the National Registry of the Disappeared or Missing Persons and the law on forced disappearances.

The government of Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto promised that on taking office it would release verifiable figures on the number of the disappeared in Mexico. In August last year, it published a list of 22,322 people missing since 2006. A total of 9,790 of them had disappeared since the beginning of his presidency on Dec. 1, 2012.

Eliana Garcia, speaking to lawmakers last month, gave the new official figure with roughly 1,000 more missing without explanation. However, a legislative press release that day said the new registry of the missing dates back to 2003.

The attorney general and six of Mexico’s 32 regions have begun working on a unified database, but the process is slow.

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