Centro de Derechos Humanos
Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, A.C.
San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico
30 August 2016
Forced disappearance, a crime against humanity with impunity in Chiapas
Forced disappearance is part of a strategy used by the Mexican State to strike terror in society and destroy organising initiatives. It is a serious infringement of rights, including human rights. Forced disappearance undermines human dignity and affects a range of rights: personal freedom, personal integrity, the right to life and legal personality. Its systematic and historic use in Mexico represents a crime against humanity.
At the beginning of this year, after a field visit to our country, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights released its report on “The Situation of Human Rights in Mexico”. The report states that forced disappearances have spread to everyone, including people without any political affiliation1. Numerous national human rights organisations have counted more than 28,161 disappeared people in Mexico2.
In Chiapas, the cases of forced disappearance, within the context of the internal armed conflict and the result of the implementation of the Plan Chiapas Campaign 94, are committed by state police officers and paramilitary groups. They operate with the support, tolerance and authorisation of the Mexican State; they remain unpunished, which creates conditions for repeated activity. This counterinsurgency policy aims to suppress the indigenous communities’ struggle for autonomy and free determination and has also led to extrajudicial executions, massacres, and forced internal displacement.
In the Northern Zone of Chiapas between 1995 and 1999, the paramilitary group “ Organización Desarrollo Paz y Justicia” is responsible for 37 forced disappearances. On the 13th of November 2006 Mariano Pérez Guzmán and Antonio Peñate López were disappeared during the “Viejo Velasco” massacre which was carried out by police agents and civilians in the presence of personnel from the Public Ministry. In 2011 on the 4th of December, Alonso López Luna was disappeared from his community Banavil in the municipality of Tenejapa, and his family was forcibly displaced.
In the aforementioned cases, there are no progress towards justice, the information provided by the State is incomplete, inefficacious and protects the perpetrators.
The Mexican State has failed in its obligation to undertake a thorough search for the whereabouts of victims of forced disappearances. Families seeking to know the what happened to their loved ones are denied the right to truth, as well as a simple, fast and efficient response to find the missing people. This constitutes a form of cruel and inhuman treatment for families, the community, and society in general.
On the International Day of the Disappeared, the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Centre for Human Rights remains committed to the persistent struggle of families and communities who have suffered from this strategy. We walk “another justice”, one that promotes the right to truth and alleviates the anguish and suffering caused by the uncertainty of a missing family member.
1 CIDH. The Situation of Human Rights in Mexico, March 2016. Available at:
2 Among these, The Mexican Commission for the of Defense and Promotion of Human Rights: We don’t forget. A call for Justice for all the victims of disappearance in Mexico. July 2016. Available at: http://cmdpdh.org/2016/07/no-olvidamos-un-llamado-por-justicia-para-todas-las-victimas-de-desaparicion-en-mexico/