Human rights

Mexico’s 100,000 ‘disappeared’ a tragedy, says UN human rights chief Bachelet |

A national database has listed everyone missing in the country since 1964, and the tally continues to climb, amid ongoing drug gang violence and a lack of effective investigations.

To date, only 35 of the disappearances recorded since then have led to the conviction of the perpetrators, a “staggering rate of impunity”, said the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

justice for families

In a statement, the UN human rights chief urged authorities to continue implementing reforms and ensuring justice for victims and their families.

“The crime of enforced disappearance is one of the worst things for families precisely because they are never closed and unfortunately bodies are rarely found,” said Liz Throssell, spokeswoman for the office of UN human rights.

“What is really important…are of course the measures that have been taken by the Mexican authorities, but as I said, the High Commissioner is trying to emphasize how much the role of the families of the victims was important, to keep this issue at the forefront.”

According to the Mexican Missing Persons Database, about a quarter are women and about a fifth were under 18 at the time of their disappearance.

The vast majority of cases where the date of disappearance is unknown – about 97% – occurred after December 2006, when Mexico transitioned to a militarized model of public security.

Tribute to families

Ms. Bachelet also paid tribute to all the family members who persevered for decades in the pursuit of truth and justice.

Among those people is Rosario Ibarra de Piedra, whose son Jesús Piedra Ibarra was forcibly disappeared in 1975. Ms Rosario, who died in April of that year, helped find some 150 missing persons alive and return them to their families.

“During my visit to Mexico in 2019, I saw firsthand the courage of the families of the victims, who have been key actors in organizing and proposing solutions, and in achieving legal and institutional progress towards recognition of the magnitude of this problem in Mexico,” said the High Commissioner.

Ayotzinapa’s infamous disappearances

Mexico’s efforts to address the problem of its missing citizens include the passing of the General Disappearance Law, the establishment of Search Committees in all states, and the Extraordinary Forensic Identification Mechanism.

A national human identification center has also opened, along with committees to look into serious human rights abuses that occurred between 1965 and 1990, in addition to the 2014 disappearance of 43 students from a teachers’ college. rural areas in Ayotzinapa.

In 2018, a report by the UN rights office into the incident said there were strong grounds to believe the investigation had been marred by torture and a cover-up.

In addition, there were “strong grounds” to conclude that at least 34 people were tortured, based on court records, including medical records of multiple physical injuries, and interviews with authorities, detainees and witnesses.


A protest rally in Mexico City over the case of the Ayoitzinapa rural school attended by the 43 missing students.

UN investigation

In 2020, Mexico recognized the competence of the United Nations Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED) to examine individual complaints. In June 2021, the Supreme Court of Mexico also recognized the binding nature of the urgent actions of the CED, which supports the right of every person affected by a disappearance to justice.

In November 2021, Mexico became the first country to accept an official visit from the Committee on Enforced Disappearances; he traveled to 13 Mexican states and held more than 150 meetings with authorities, victims’ organizations and NGOs.