The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said Wednesday that he documented between February and mid-May the disappearance of 21 men and two women in the state of Tamaulipas, Mexico, and that there are strong indications of which federal security forces would be responsible.
However, according to a local human rights organization, there are at least 40 disappearances during that period.
According to testimonies received by the UN-DH, these disappearances often occurred at night or at dawn, the office said in a statement.
People were reportedly detained by uniformed personnel while walking or driving on roads, and several vehicles were found on the side of the road, burned and shot.
“It is particularly horrific that at least five of the victims are minors, three of them very young, only 14 years old. These crimes, perpetrated for four months in a single municipality, are outrageous,” said Zeid.
The high commissioner pointed out that despite the extensive information and evidence available, Mexican authorities have made little progress in locating the missing people and investigating what happened.
In some cases, the families undertook their own searches without any protection and have found the bodies of at least six victims so far.
Several people who witnessed the events have been threatened and one was missing for two days.
“It is vital that the Mexican authorities carry out an effective search of the persons whose whereabouts are still unknown and who carry out a diligent, independent and complete investigation to clarify the facts, identify those responsible and guarantee that they are brought to justice.
“They must also grant protection to witnesses and defenders and provide assistance to the families of the victims,” the official demanded.
He explained that on May 10, the National Human Rights Commission issued precautionary measures among others, to the Secretary of the Navy to protect the civilian population of Tamaulipas, however, at least three disappearances have occurred since then.
“It is extremely worrisome that these enforced disappearances occur a few months after the approval of the General Law of Disappearances.
“What has been happening in Nuevo Laredo is a crucial test to verify if this new law really represents the change that its adoption promises or if the forced disappearances will continue followed by impunity and lack of reparation to the victims,” he said.