UN: Mexican Government Participated in Disappearances

The United Nations issued strong words on Tuesday, stating that the Mexican state has participated in the kidnapping and disappearance of Mexican citizens. But determining just how many have vanished due to alleged government complicity is impossible to track, given that the government keeps wildly different counts of the total number of missing.

The UN·Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) based its recent comments on a March 2011 trip to Mexico, when the UN·met with numerous authorities at the state and federal levels, as well as international NGOs, relatives of disappeared persons, and former victims of enforced disappearance.

Presenting its findings in Geneva, the Group said that state bodies have been involved in the disappearance of Mexican citizens, adding that while organized crime groups did commit a large number of kidnappings and disappearances, they were not responsible for all cases.

The WGEID said that the number of denouncements of disappearances increased from four in 2006 to 77 in 2010. These are markedly different numbers kept by Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission, which reported 346 denouncements in 2010.

Amnesty International also condemned Mexico’s “official inaction,” stating that the government has done little to investigate military and police accused of playing a role in some disappearances.

InSight Crime Analysis

According to Animal Político, Mexico’s federal institutions keep a conflicted track of the number of·persons reported disappeared. While the Attorney General’s Office counts 4,800 disappearances, the Attorney General’s Office of Mexico City records the total number of missing people at 5,229. In contrast, the Secretariat of Public Security (SSP), which is legally responsible for updating the national register of missing persons, has documented 2,044 cases.

The discrepancy in official statistics only serves to underscore the state’s inability to accurately measure the problem. It also points to the difficulty in categorizing disappearances. There are those killed in the drug war, those who may fall victim to kidnapping or sex trafficking rings, and those victim to “forced disappearances” carried out by the Mexican security forces. Considering the apparent difficulty in measuring the total number of disappeared in Mexico, accurately measuring those who have disappeared due to the involvement of state agencies seems near impossible.