(Washington, D.C.) -- Amnesty International today called on Mexican authorities to launch a full investigation into the alleged enforced disappearance of three members of a farming family in the western state of Michoacán.
The men, all from the Orozco Medina family in Nuevo Zirosto, were taken away by armed men believed to be members of the security forces -- or men acting with their acquiescence -- in separate incidents from July 2008 to May 2012. The men have not been seen since and authorities deny they are in their custody.
"The authorities must carry out a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation into all three disappearances, provide information on the fate or whereabouts of each man and hold those responsible to account," said Amnesty International's Mexico researcher Rupert Knox.
Relatives believe the disappearances are part of a campaign of harassment started by the local police in 2007 to try to force the farmers to abandon their land.
Most recently, Moises Orozco Medina disappeared on May 22, 2012. He sent a text to his sister asking her to get help from the federal judicial police (Policia Federal Ministerial, PFM) because members of the municipal police were trying to take him away. His whereabouts remain unknown.
Moises' brother, Leonel Orozco Medina, disappeared in April 2009. Witnesses said they saw him being detained by a group of armed men wearing the uniform of the Federal Investigations Agency (Agencia Federal de Investigacion, AFI).
The family has filed a formal complaint with the Michoacán State Attorney General's Office, but say they have been denied information on the case or access to their complaint.
"All members of the Orozco Medina family believed to be at risk of harassment, unlawful detention, abduction or enforced disappearance must be protected," added Knox.
Amnesty International believes that, in view of information it has received, the three cases may amount to enforced disappearance, a crime under international law and, sometimes, a crime against humanity.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.