February 20, 2013

Mexico’s Disappeared

The Enduring Cost of a Crisis Ignored

Executive Summary
Enforced Disappearances
Enforced Disappearances by the Navy
Enforced Disappearances by Local Police
Enforced Disappearances by Federal Police
Complicity between Security Forces and Organized Crime in Disappearances
Investigative Failures
Failure by Authorities to Intervene During and Immediately Following Abductions
Failure to Immediately Search for Victims or Open Investigations
Blaming the Victim
Unfounded Presumptions about Victim’s Whereabouts
Failure to Promptly Track the Victim’s Cell Phone, Bank Accounts, or Other Immediate Traces
Negligence, Delays, Errors, and Fabrications
How Failure to Investigate Contributes Directly to More Disappearances
Prosecutorial Abdication of Responsibility, Transfers, and Lack of Coordination
Relying on Victims’ Families to Investigate
Corrupt Investigators and the Loss of Families’ Trust
Impact on Families of Disappeared Persons
Relatives of the Disappeared: the Right to Truth and the Open-Ended Anguish of Not Knowing
Emotional and Psychological Impact
Psychological Impact on Children
Threats, Harassment, and Attacks Targeting Families of the Disappeared
Economic Impact
PROVÍCTIMA’s Shortcomings in Assisting Families
A Promising New Approach: the Case of Nuevo León
“Working Meetings” between Victims’ Families, Human Rights Defenders, and the State Prosecutor’s Office
Overcoming Distrust and Strengthening Investigative Practices
Institutional Reforms
Results from Better Investigations
Remaining Challenges and Shortcomings
An Alternative Approach: the Case of Coahuila
Failure to Prosecute Enforced Disappearances and Other Serious Abuses Previously Documented by Human Rights Watch
Failure of the Federal Government to Develop National Databases of the Disappeared and Unidentified Remains
The Importance of Registries of the Disappeared and Unidentified Bodies to Searches and Investigations
Flaws and Delays in Efforts by the Calderón Government to Develop National Registries
Enforced Disappearances and Mexico’s Obligations under International Law..
The Crime of Enforced Disappearance
Definition of “Disappearances”
Obligations to Investigate
Reparations for Victims
Inadequate Domestic Legislation to Prevent and Punish Enforced Disappearances
Misuse of the Military Justice System to Prosecute Enforced Disappearances
Downgrading the Crime of Enforced Disappearance and Lenient Sentences by Military Prosecutors and Judges
Annex 1: Cases of Disappearances Documented by Human Rights Watch.
Methodology for List of Disappearances
Annex 2: Letter from Human Rights Watch to  Alejandro Poiré Romero, Former Secretary of the Interior,  March 1, 2012