Press Release

IACHR Welcomes Entry into Force of General Law on Disappearance of Persons in Mexico

December 1, 2017

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Washington, D.C.—The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) welcomes the entry into force of the General Law on Forced Disappearance of Persons, Disappearance Committed by Individuals and the National Missing Persons Search System, enacted on November 16, 2017.

The IACHR commends the fact that the law is consistent with inter-American human rights standards in this area, it establishes the creation of a national mechanism to search for missing persons, establishes that there is no statute of limitations for this crime, creates a declaration of absence in cases of disappearance, sets up a national mechanism to search for missing persons, and provides tools to attend to the special needs of victims and relatives, among other aspects. The IACHR also notes that this law was created through an open process of participatory debate, and important contributions were made by groups of victims, civil society organizations, universities, the National Human Rights Commission, and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

“This is a major piece of legislation,” said IACHR Commissioner Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño, the Commission’s Rapporteur for Mexico. “Given the large number of disappearances of persons in Mexico, it was urgent to have an appropriate law in place. It is also encouraging to see that this law is in keeping with the recommendations the IACHR made in its 2015 country report. We trust that its appropriate implementation will constitute an important mechanism to address the tragedy of disappearances of persons in Mexico,” she said.

The IACHR has closely monitored the large number of disappearances of persons in Mexico with deep concern. In its 2015 country report, the IACHR indicated that official figures, together with information received from different regions in the country, showed that disappearances are generalized in Mexico. The State has recognized that it still faces significant challenges in terms of achieving the full enjoyment of human rights and has reiterated its willingness to address human rights violations and strengthen the effective protection of rights.

The Commission calls to mind that disappearance is intrinsically permanent and continuous, and its effects have serious repercussions for victims as long as the situation or whereabouts of the missing have not been determined. “Disappearance is an open wound that is impossible to heal while family members continue to live in constant uncertainty, without knowing the fate of their loved ones,” said the Commissioner and Rapporteur for Mexico. “At the IACHR, we will closely follow any measures the Mexican State adopts to ensure due implementation of this law and to provide the necessary human and financial resources for that purpose,” she added.

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 the respect for and defense of human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 196/17