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Mexico responsible for disappearances - UN Expert

GENEVA (7 August 2019) — Mexico must carry out a thorough, rigorous, impartial, independent and effective investigation into the circumstances of enforced disappearances in Veracruz in 2010, the UN Human Rights Committee said in a decision published today in Geneva.

The full decision is available to read on-line.

The UN Human Rights Committee, a group of 18 international experts, issued its finding based on international human rights law after receiving a complaint from relatives of a victim of enforced disappearance. According to the complaint, the victim was driving his car in the city of Poza Rica (Veracruz) in October 2010 when two police patrol cars stopped him and made him get into one of theirs at gunpoint. After his partner, who witnessed the events, could not find him at any police station, she together with the victim’s relatives filed complaints. She identified three police officers among those responsible for the disappearance, but they were discharged by their supervisors, who were later arrested, suspected to be linked to the organized crime group “Los Zetas.”

Since the Mexican authorities did very little in terms of investigation, the victim’s family brought the case to the Human Rights Committee, which has a mandate to examine cases of human rights violations in countries which have signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights along with its Optional Protocol. Mexico acceded to the Covenant on 23 March 1981 and joined the Optional Protocol on 15 March 2002.

The Human Rights Committee noted that the investigation of an enforced disappearance case could not rely on the confession of the authorities possibly involved. Clandestine detention centres are per se a violation of the rights to personal liberty, the Committee said in its decision.

Individuals have human rights to life, to physical and psychological integrity, to liberty, to recognition as a person before the law, and to accessible and effective remedies, the experts noted. They said that all those human rights have been violated by Mexico in the case before the Committee. The appropriate procedures were not carried out in time, which led to the loss of important evidence; the investigations were not independent and impartial; and were ineffective in clarifying the circumstances of the disappearance and in identifying those responsible, the Committee said in its decision.

“It is fundamental for Mexico to begin processing and punishing those responsible for enforced disappearances, in order to put an end to the structural impunity operating in the country,” said Hélène Tigroudja, a member of the Human Rights Committee.

In its decision, the Committee requested Mexico to report back within 180 days, detailing the measures it has taken to remedy the situation.

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