Canada: Speak up for Families of the Disappeared in Mexico
More than 35,000 people are now reported disappeared in Mexico.
It’s a staggering number that continues to climb every day.
One of the most notorious cases involves 43 students from a teacher-training college in Ayotzinapa who were taken away by police in September 2014 and never seen again.
The government’s “investigation” has failed to find the students and led to allegations of covering up an extensive web of complicity involving authorities at all levels of the Mexican state.
This is no isolated case. Systemic incompetence and a complete lack of will by State and Federal authorities in Mexico to properly search for and investigate the disappearance of thousands of people is fuelling a human rights crisis of epidemic proportions.
When relatives go to the police to report a disappearance, authorities tend to accuse the victims of being members of drug cartels and say the disappearances are a result of turf wars between rival gangs. The initial searches for those reported to have been disappeared are routinely delayed – or not initiated at all. The rare investigations that do take place are usually so flawed they rarely lead to any results.
This leaves the families in an unending torment of not knowing whether their disappeared loved ones have been killed, or are being held somewhere and in need of rescue. Many families attempt to search for their loved ones themselves, facing threats and even assassinations by those who do not want the truth uncovered. Two mothers have themselves been disappeared.
Amidst a toxic mix of indifference, hostility and corruption on the part of Mexican authorities, relatives of the disappeared have joined together in self-help groups. Those groups have multiplied across the country and together formed the national Movement for Our Disappeared in Mexico (known by its acronym MNDM). Tireless efforts by the MNDM achieved new legislation in November 2017 to confront disappearances with the creation of a National Search Commission and investigators mandated to bring perpetrators to justice.
But Mexico has a long record of making lofty commitments that fail to translate into meaningful action.
International pressure is needed now to press for implementation of the new mechanisms to stop disappearances and find the missing.
Canada's voice is vital
Canada has a close relationship with Mexico via the North American Free Trade Agreement and other programs of cooperation. In 2016, following the State Visit of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, Canada and Mexico signed agreements to hold an annual bilateral human rights dialogue.
It is extremely important that Canada uses this dialogue and other spaces to speak up firmly and consistently in support of the National Movement for our Disappeared in Mexico, echoing their specific calls for action.
Write a short, polite letter to Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister
- Start your letter with a sentence or two about yourself to make the letter personal.
- Express your concern regarding the ongoing epidemic of disappearances in Mexico, with more than 35,000 reported cases, and lack of effective action to search for the missing and bring the perpetrators to justice.
- Call on the Minister to use her close relationship with Mexico to press authorities there to fully and effectively implement the 2017 Law on Disappearance and the new National Search System, with adequate funding and human resources, as well as the active participation of the Movement for Our Disappeared in Mexico.
- Also call on the Minister to clearly and consistently express Canada's support for implementation of recommendations made by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in its March 2018 report on the Mexican government’s investigation into the enforced disappearance of 43 students in 2014, its use of arbitrary detention and torture of suspects, as well as tampering and concealment of evidence.
Where do I send my message?Hon Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs House of Commons Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6 Fax: 613-996-9607 Email: Chrystia.Freeland@parl.gc.ca Twitter: @cafreeland
Thank you for taking action!