Human Rights Watch has just released a new report on forced disappearances in Mexico.
The group says nearly 250 people have vanished, never to be seen again leaving their families in absolute agony.
According to the report, during the six-year term of President Felipe Calderon which ended in December, 249 people went missing in Mexico. Human Rights Watch says it has "compelling evidence" that soldiers or police officers were involved in 149 of those cases, but sees a ray of hope in the new administration.
Nik Steinberg, with the Human Rights Watch said, “The Peña Nieto government has been very open so far about acknowledging the scale of the problem and the work that remains for them. The real question will be: are they ready to investigate and prosecute these cases?”
Responding to the report, a top Mexican official said the interior ministry has compiled a list of 27,000 people who are missing in Mexico. The official did not specify if the list goes beyond the six years of the previous administration, when then-President Felipe Calderon launched a war on drug cartels. She said the database, which includes possible motives for each disappearance, will be released to the public in the near future.
Just a few days before the report was issued, the Mexican Defense Secretary, Salvador Cienfuegos,
said he's already taken action to improve the armed forces all around. “Our main challenge will be strengthening the professionalism of the members of our armed forces with a wide range of ethical values.”
In 2011, when human rights watch released a preliminary report looking at disappearances in Mexico, Eric Rojo, a former U.S. Army Colonel, and now a security analyst in Mexico, said mistakes do happen when a country is essentially at war with organized crime. But to claim that security forces are systematically violating the human rights of Mexicans, Rojo said then, misses the point.
In 2011, he said “The thing I find interesting is that all of these years Human Rights Watch have yet to raise a human rights violation against the Zetas, the Gulf Cartel, the Sinaloa Cartel, the Juarez Cartel and all of these people who have violated the human rights of many thousands of Mexicans, a large number of which are dead by their own hands.”
Meanwhile, relatives and loved ones of those missing cling to the hope that the new administration of Enrique Peña Nieto will vigorously pursue investigations and prosecutions.