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UN: Mexico must act immediately to end ‘absolute impunity’ in enforced disappearances

The United Nations Committee on Enforced Disappearances released new findings this week about the soaring number of disappearances in Mexico, saying the country has become a place where disappearances are "the perfect crime."

The committee called on Mexico to take immediate action to tackle forced disappearances facilitated by what it calls “almost absolute impunity.” It also blamed organized crime and corrupt officials for the alarming upward trend of disappearances.

"Organized crime has become a central perpetrator of disappearance in Mexico, with varying degrees of participation, acquiescence or omission by public servants," the committee said in a report released after it visited Mexico last December. "States parties are directly responsible for enforced disappearances committed by public officials, but may also be accountable for disappearances committed by criminal organizations."

During a virtual conference on the committee's findings, Committee Chair Carmen Villa Quintana said militarization is also a major concern, calling it insufficient and inadequate to protect human rights.

At the time of the committee's visit in November, there were more than 95,000 people registered as missing in Mexico, and another 112 people were added just during the 11-day trip.

The committee noted in its report that while men ages 15-40 remain the overall most affected group, children as young as 12, women and girls are increasingly victims of forced disappearances. They also expressed concern over enforced disappearances of human rights defenders, journalists and migrants.

Nearly all cases of disappearances remain unsolved and unprosecuted.

The UN also highlighted Mexico’s troubling forensic backlog, which has left some 52,000 deceased persons unidentified in mass graves or other facilities.

"In order for disappearance to cease to be the paradigm of the perfect crime in Mexico, prevention must be at the heart of national policy for the prevention and eradication of enforced disappearances”, the UN said.

Kendal Blust was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2018 to 2023.