On Monday, various Mexican government officials were joined by the representative of the United Nations‘ Human Rights office in Mexico at an event to mark the creation of a special investigative unit to search for missing people. The unit will be part of the attorney general’s office and will increase the number of federal investigators dedicated to these cases from 6 to 12 people; a group of federal police agents will provide support. The International Committee of the Red Cross will also provide technical assistance to the new unit.
During a press conference on Monday, Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam said that the new unit will improve institutional coordination by guaranteeing that the same investigators and forensic experts remain on cases until they are solved. “Today we want to eliminate the bureaucratic mess […] we are going to exhaust all options and be completely transparent in regard to the results of the program,” he said.
Interior Secretary Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong recognized the victim’s families’ dissatisfaction with the current system and said that the government will use all necessary resources to locate their missing family members. In the absence of a coordinated system, many of the victims’ families have had to take full responsibility for investigations and shoulder the costs of the investigations.
Mexican authorities are also working on creating a single database of missing individuals. Official records report that 26,121 people disappeared during Felipe Calderón’s presidency (2006-2012) in a wave of violence associated with the government’s crackdown on narcotraffickers, a put together by the previous administration and made public earlier this year. According to Osorio, the number of disappeared could be “significantly lower,” as some of the people who were reported as missing had left their homes temporarily or decided to migrate, and thus should be removed from the official list.
At the end of the press conference, families responded to the government’s announcement by saying, “We don’t want promises, we want results.” To date, official sources have not revealed the amount of funds that will be directed to the special unit.