Report rebukes Mexico over cases of the missing

Security forces carried out many kidnappings and the government ignored most disappearances, adding to the anguish of families, Human Rights Watch reports.

A member of a caravan of Central American mothers holds a photograph of her missing child during a Mass in Mexico City. More than 20,000 people are believed to have gone missing during Mexico’s war on drug cartels.

Security forces have taken part in many kidnappings and disappearances in Mexico, and the government’s failure to investigate most cases only compounds the anguish of their families, according to a scathing new human rights report.

The report released Wednesday serves as an indictment of the administration of former President Felipe Calderon, who left office Dec. 1, and poses urgent challenges for his successor, Enrique Peña Nieto.

Against the backdrop of a military-led offensive against powerful drug cartels, an estimated 70,000 people were killed during Calderon’s six-year term, according to authorities and media tallies. Thousands more, possibly more than 20,000, disappeared.

The missing represent what U.S.-based Human Rights Watch called a festering unknown that causes enduring anguish for their families. More than a year of research by the group corroborated reporting by The Times and other news organizations, and stacks of complaints filed by families in almost every state of the republic.

Many of the missing were kidnapped by drug gangs, but all state security branches, including the military and federal and local police, are also accused of the “enforced disappearances” of many people, Human Rights Watch said. The Mexican navy, often praised by U.S. officials and others for its effectiveness in fighting drug gangs, also came in for serious criticism.


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