Annual Report: Mexico 2013

Report
May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Mexico 2013

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The fate of victims remained unknown in most instances. The authorities were frequently reluctant to investigate cases, particularly enforced disappearances, leaving relatives to conduct their own enquiries – often at grave risk of reprisals from the perpetrators – to establish the fate of their loved ones. In some states, relatives of victims were treated with contempt as officials made unfounded allegations about the presumed criminal associations of victims. In the states of Coahuila and Nuevo León, victims and human rights organizations obtained commitments from local officials to review cases and institute rapid search and investigation responses to reports of disappearances. Commitments by federal government to establish a nationwide database on the disappeared remained unfulfilled.

According to the CNDH, there were at least 15,921 unidentified bodies and more than 1,400 remains had been exhumed from clandestine mass graves. In March, the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances published a report highlighting alarming levels of enforced disappearance and impunity in Mexico.

In November in Nuevo León state, legislation was approved criminalizing enforced disappearance. In virtually all other states and at federal level, enforced disappearance was not criminalized in accordance with international human rights standards. The new government made commitments to rectify this.

  • In May, Moisés Orozco Medina was reportedly detained by members of the municipal police in Uruapan Municipality, Michoacán state. The authorities denied any knowledge of his detention and his fate had not been clarified by the end of the year. His brother and father had been abducted by armed men in 2009 and 2008; their fate remained unknown and the state authorities had failed to provide information on the investigation into the cases by the end of the year.

Migrants' rights

Migrants in transit continued to face abduction, murder and forced recruitment into criminal gangs. Migrant women and children were at particular risk of abuses. Public officials were often suspected of colluding with criminal gangs and committing other abuses against migrants, such as extortion and arbitrary detention.

Despite government commitments to combat all abuses against migrants, measures remained ineffective and state governments failed to prevent and punish crimes against migrants. In November, the implementing code of the new Migration Law came into force. In October, mothers of disappeared Central American migrants toured Mexico in search of their relatives. A database of missing migrants had still not been established by the end of the year and the identification of remains believed to be of migrants did not progress. Those defending migrants' rights continued to face threats in reprisal for their work.

  • In July, the migrants' shelter in Lechería, Mexico state, was closed after repeated threats by criminal gangs against migrants and shelter workers. State authorities failed to ensure effective protection and some local residents protested against the presence of the shelter. Migrants and human rights defenders continued to face threats and insecurity in Huehuetoca, where alternative temporary shelters were opened.
  • In October, eyewitnesses reported that at least 40 migrants were kidnapped from a freight train in Medias Aguas, Veracruz state. An official investigation failed to establish the fate of the migrants and denied that the abduction had taken place.

Human rights defenders and journalists

Human rights defenders and journalists continued to face attacks and threats as a result of their work. At least six journalists were killed. The Special Federal Prosecutor's Office for Crimes against Journalists failed to make progress in most cases of murdered journalists. The vast majority of investigations into attacks and threats against human rights defenders also remained unresolved. A law establishing a protection mechanism for human rights defenders and journalists was promoted by civil society and approved by Congress in April. The new government made commitments to establish the mechanism and prioritize protection of human rights defenders and journalists.