Human Rights Report Blasts Mexico's Drug War Tactics

By McCarton Ackerman 02/21/13

The report says Mexican officials are to blame for the disappearances of 249 people.

Photos of missing people on display in a
square in Queretaro, Mexico.
Photo via

A new report from the Human Rights Watch has called Mexico's drug war offensive "disastrous" after citing 249 cases of disappearances that were mostly carried out by military officials or law enforcement. The organization calls the situation “the most severe crisis of enforced disappearances in Latin America in decades" and accuses former President Felipe Calderon of ignoring the problem. The report claims security forces often detained people without warrants in both private and public locations, refused to offer the victims' families any information, and failed to conduct even basic investigative steps to track down missing people. Security personnel are even accused of working with criminals by detaining victims and handing them over to gangs. The report recommends major overhauls to security procedures, including issuing new rules requiring that detainees be taken immediately to prosecutors’ offices and not be held at military bases or police stations. Human Rights Watch urges new President Enrique Peña Nieto, who took over from Calderon in December, to take immediate action “in cases where people have been taken against their will and their fate is still unknown.”

A civic organization released a database late last year that it said contained official information on more than 20,000 people who had gone missing in Mexico during Calderon's six-year term, but Nieto's administration plans to unveil a database containing more than 27,000 records of missing people, including more than 1,200 children under age 11. Lia Limon, deputy secretary for human rights at the Interior Department, said the records were gathered by the federal Attorney General's Office and are listed with such details as name, age, gender and the date and place where the person disappeared.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.