Press Release

IACHR Condemns Murder of 145 People whose Bodies were Found in Clandestine Graves in Mexico

April 18, 2011

Washington, D.C. — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the murder of 145 people whose bodies have been found in recent days in clandestine graves in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. The Commission urges the State of Mexico to clarify what has occurred, identify the victims, punish those responsible, and urgently adopt the necessary measures to ensure that such acts do not continue to happen.

The State has reported that the bodies were found between April 6 and 14 of this year in the municipality of San Fernando, in Tamaulipas. The Commission notes with concern that this is the same place where the bodies of 72 undocumented migrants bound for the United States were found in August 2010. The authorities are investigating whether the victims found in the new graves were also migrants, and so far the body of a Guatemalan citizen has been identified. The governor of the state of Guanajuato has indicated that 57 of the victims could be migrants from Guanajuato who were on their way to the United States.

According to a report presented by the Tamaulipas Attorney General's Office, the murders apparently took place one to two months before the bodies were found. The Attorney General's Office of Mexico stated that these murders could be the work of the Zetas criminal organization. More than 30 individuals have been arrested to date, 16 of whom are local police from the municipality of San Fernando, Tamaulipas, who are accused of protecting and providing cover for the Zetas.

Several reports by the National Human Rights Commission of Mexico (CNDH) show an increase in kidnappings of migrants in the country. In a special report published this year, the CNDH indicated that 11,333 migrant persons were kidnapped over a six-month period in 2010 (from April through September) and that Tamaulipas is one of the states with the most victims.

The IACHR urges the State of Mexico to maximize its efforts to ensure that such crimes do not happen again, to determine the victims' identity, and to investigate, prosecute, and punish the perpetrators and masterminds, whether this is a case involving organized crime or State agents in collusion with organized crime. The Inter-American Commission also calls on the State of Mexico to urgently adopt any necessary measures to protect all migrants in its territory and to ensure absolute respect for their human rights.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in a personal capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 34/11