Mar 6, 2012

Human Rights Abuses: UN says Mexican state is complicit in abductions

Milenio/EFE: Geneva, Switzerland: "The Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances of the United Nations says it has detailed information which demonstrates the involvement of public officials in disappearances in Mexico. It says that the disappearances are not only the work of organized criminal groups, but also includes participation from the Mexican state.

The investigative group presented a report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva which was the result of its visit to Mexico in the second half of March 2011. The main finding of the report indicated the participation of state bodies and officials in the kidnappings and forced disappearances of Mexican citizens.

The Working Group notes that “a large number of kidnappings and crimes similar to forced disappearances are committed by organized criminal groups,” but added that “not all missing persons have been kidnapped by independently-operating organized criminal groups.”

“On the contrary, the State’s participation in forced disappearances is also evident throughout the country,” declared the group, which claims to have “specific, detailed, and credible information regarding cases of forced disappearances carried out by public authorities or by criminal groups or individuals acting with direct or indirect support from some public officials.”

The group is composed of South African Jeremy Sarkin, Frenchman Olivier de Frouville, Libyan Osman El Hajjé, Bosnian Jaminka Dzumhur, and Argentinian Ariel Dulitzky, all of whom are experts on judicial matters and the protection of human rights.

Their report also highlights “the impunity that prevails” in many cases of forced disappearance in Mexico; instead of being treated as such, they “are reported and investigated under a different pretext or not even considered as crimes.”

“Cases of forced disappearances are euphemistically and popularly called ‘pickups,’” the report added, citing cases in which the unlawful or arbitrary deprivation of liberty was classified as a kidnapping or abuse of authority.

In other instances, they consider the disappeared person “as missing or lost (above all amongst groups such as women, minors, or migrants) without a sufficient investigation to rule out the possibility of a forced disappearance.”

The Working Group also highlighted that the number of complaints regarding forced disapearances has grown from four in 2006 to 77 in 2010 and that the Missing Persons Program of Mexico’s National Commission of Human Rights (NCHR) reported 346 alleged disappearances during 2010.

For their part, civil society organizations reported that, according to their estimates, more than three thousand people “had been missing in the country since 2006,” the report says.

“According to the information received, some of these disappearances could be described as a result of direct or indirect participation of state agents,” said the experts.

The Working Group reocognized that “Mexico faces a complicated public security situation due to increased violence related mainly to organized crime. Violence continues despite the detentions and killings of suspected important members of criminal groups and the seizure of significant amounts of drugs and weapons,” it reported.

“Organized criminal groups have expanded their illicit activities to trafficking, kidnapping, and extortion” reported the experts. They recognized “the government’s efforts to address this complex situation.” Spanish original

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