Tracking Hidden Graves Across Mexico

A government report gives a sense of the number of clandestine graves across Mexico, drawing further attention to the government’s flawed procedures for tracking disappearances.  

Between December 2006 and February 2015, the remains of 601 humans were found in 174 clandestine grave sites throughout Mexico, El Universal reported, citing a report obtained from the Attorney General’s Office (PGR) via a freedom of information act request.

Clandestine grave sites are used by criminal groups in Mexico and other parts of Latin America to hide the bodies of victims. 

According to the PGR report, the number of clandestine graves is clearly linked to the country’s battle against organized crime: only 8.1 percent of the graves were discovered prior to April 2011. Clandestine graves were found in 16 of Mexico’s 32 states, with Guerrero, Jalisco and Tamaulipas topping the list. 

Of the human remains found, 80 percent have yet to be identified. The remains included 302 males and 40 females, with the remaining 259 indeterminate. A number of Central American migrants were also identified amongst the remains, the report said. 

InSight Crime Analysis

Although shocking enough on their own, the latest statistics from the Attorney General’s Office have likely underreported the number of victims found in unmarked graves. 

Under Mexico’s current system, when police find clandestine graves, they report them to the state prosecutor’s office. It is then up to the state government to share that information with the federal government, and sadly states often choose not to. The absence of credible statistics on disappearances can lead to bad policy decisions, as well as increase distrust in the government and encourage perpetrators of forced disappearances who believe their victims will never be found, and their deaths never investigated. 

Mexico congressional representatives have responded to the situation with multiple legislative proposals. Initiatives include the creation of a new agency dedicated to investigating forced disappearances, improved protocols for identifying human remains, and classifying force disappearances as a crime against humanity. However, it remains unclear if these measure will improve the sharing of information between the state and federal government.

 

Graphic courtesy of Buzzfeed

Graphic by BuzzFeed