Skip to main content

Press releases Special Procedures

UN experts express concern for impunity in cases of enforced disappearances in Mexico

Enforced disappearances

15 March 2012

MEXICO CITY / GENEVA (14 March 2012) – “Enforced disappearances in Mexico have happened in the past and continue to happen today,” the UN Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances warned, during the presentation of its report on the country in Mexico City.*

The report recognised the efforts made by Mexico in relation to human rights, including the fight against enforced disappearances, “as well as the challenges posed by the complex situation in relation to public security in the context of the fight against crime.”

However, the group of independent experts emphasised that “there is a chronic pattern of impunity demonstrated by the absence of effective investigations in cases of enforced disappearances.”

“The State must recognise the scale of the problem as a first step in developing comprehensive and effective measures to eradicate it,” they said. “This challenging situation cannot be confronted if respect for human rights is ignored. Cases of enforced disappearances cannot be exclusively attributed to organised crime without appropriate and thorough criminal investigation.”

In its report, the Working Group examined the situation regarding enforced disappearance in Mexico, the legal and institutional framework and the right to justice, truth and reparations; as well as the reality faced by particularly vulnerable groups, such as migrants, women, human rights defenders and journalists.

“Mexico faces a complicated situation in relation to public security due to the increase in violence,” stated the group of experts. “Concerns in relation to public security with respect to organised crime are real and the Working Group recognises the right and the duty of the Mexican State to prosecute criminality.”

However, for the Working Group, “this situation cannot be tackled at the expense of respect for human rights, or allowing the practice of enforced disappearances.” In its opinion “the military operatives deployed in the context of public security should be strictly limited and appropriately supervised by civil authorities.”

The group of experts expressed that “victims of enforced disappearances do not trust the justice system, or the Public Ministries, the police or the armed forces, especially due to impunity in cases of enforced disappearances and insufficient efforts to determine the fate and whereabouts of the disappeared individuals, to sanction those responsible and provide reparations.”

In its report, the experts welcomed the openness of the Mexican Government and the positive constitutional changes approved in 2011 in relation to human rights. At the same time they warned that “there is no comprehensive public policy and legal framework to deal with the different aspects of enforced disappearances.” In this respect, the Working Group formulated 33 recommendations which cover prevention, investigations, sanctions, and reparations for victims of enforced disappearances, including the protection of particularly vulnerable groups.

During its mission to Mexico, from 18 to 31 March 2011, the Working Group visited several cities in the country and met with authorities, public human rights bodies, non-governmental organisations, family members of disappeared individuals, victims of enforced disappearance and other civil society actors from Mexico.

Mr. Ariel Dulitzky, one of the members of the Working Group, participated via videoconference in the presentation of the report in Mexico City. Representatives of the Federal Government, the National Human Rights Commission, members of civil society and families of victims also took part in the event.

(*) Check the Working Group’s report on Mexico:

The Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances consists of five independent of experts from every región of the world: Olivier de Frouville, Chair-Rapporteur (France); Jeremy Sarkin (South Africa); Ariel Dulitzky (Argentina); Jasminka Dzumhur (Bosnia-Herzegovina) and Osman El-Hajjé (Lebanon).

The Working Group was established by the UN Human Rights Commission in 1980 to assist the relatives of disappeared persons to ascertain the fate and whereabouts of their disappeared family members. The Group acts as a channel of communication between the families and the Governments concerned in order to ensure that cases are investigated, with the objective of clarifying the whereabouts of individuals who have disappeared and are outside the protection of the law. The panel of experts continues to deal with cases of disappearances until they are resolved.

For more information on the Working Group, see:

UN Human Rights, country page – Mexico:

For more information or for press requests:
In Geneva: Matías Pellado (+41 22 917 9336 / [email protected] )
In Mexico City: Rosa Gutiérrez (+52 55 5061 6374 / [email protected] )

For press requests on other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Communications Unit (Tel:+ 41 22 917 9383 / [email protected])

UN Human Rights, follow us on social media

Universal HR index: