Kidnapping and disappearance cases in Mexico were down in 2015, but as continued accounts of government ineptitude and collusion surface, this change may simply signify decreased trust in government authorities.
At a recent regional security meeting, Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong reported that reported kidnapping cases were down 27 percent in 2015. Disappearances also decreased from an average of 14 a day in 2014, to 10 a day in 2015, according to government sources.
Osorio Chong linked these improvements to “the collaboration between regional governments and federal authorities.”
In response to increased pressure related to the disappearance of 43 students in Iguala, Guerrero, in September 2014, Peña Nieto’s government created a special office for disappearances and introduced a new law that details how all Mexican officials should respond to disappearances.
Insight Crime Analysis
Although at first glance, these numbers and government actions seem encouraging, there is a more troubling side to the story. In a recent report, Amnesty International (Al) chastised the Mexican government for its inaction in investigating disappearances.
“In most cases,” AI wrote, “investigation appears to consist of merely going through the motions and appears to be destined from the outset to lead nowhere.”
AI noted that although the first 72 hours after a disappearance are key for gathering evidence, in none of the cases it analyzed did authorities take action in this time period. And, in many cases, when families finally accessed victims’ files, there was no information beyond what the family had provided.
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There are many reasons that authorities do not pursue disappearance and kidnapping cases. Sometimes prosecutors are simply overworked and under-resourced. In other cases, police are intimidated by organized crime. In one instance reported by AI, a family member of a victim reported that a prosecutor showed him his paycheck and said, “I’m not going to risk my life for that kind of money.”
In addition, state actors themselves are involved in some disappearances and kidnappings. For example, authorities detained seven police officers in relation to recent disappearance of five young people in the state of Veracruz.
On Tuesday, authorities found three bodies that may be related to this high-profile case, but for many of the families of the 27,600 disappeared people and countless kidnapping victims, they may never know where their loved ones are.
In 2014, 92.8 percent of crimes were not reported in Mexico. And a decrease in official statistics of kidnappings and murder may simply signify a loss of hope in authorities, rather than increased investigative success.