Target: Governor César Horacio Duarte Jaquez of Chihuahua
Goal: Investigate public officials accused of intimidating the relatives of disappeared people and establish an independent team of forensic experts to analyze evidence.
Public officials in the Mexican state of Chihuahua have allegedly been intimidating the relatives of victims of forced disappearances and have been pressuring them to agree to let government chosen forensic experts examine human remains found nearby, in a contravention of a previous agreement.
In one case, Cuauhtémoc City resident Fernando Romo, who is searching for eight relatives who disappeared after being apprehended by the police, reported instances of intimidation and coercion over two meetings with public officials. In the first, two public officials asked Mr. Romo to authorize analysis of human remains by a government-chosen forensic team– a request that would violate a previous agreement, and render the forensic evidence unusable for future forensic tests. During the second meeting, after making inquiries about the progress on the case, Mr. Romo shared his suspicions of the complicity of local law enforcement in the disappearance of his relatives with a local prosecutor. The prosecutor then invited Mr. Romo to identify the perpetrators in front of local law enforcement, an act that would put Mr. Romo in danger.
Since 2006, 27,000 people have been reported missing in Mexico, with 374 people reported missing in Cuauhtémoc City alone. It is quite possible that the true numbers of missing are much higher as many families do not report missing relatives for fear of reprisals. Given that law enforcement has been implicated in some of the missing persons cases, it is critical that when evidence such as human remains is found it not be mishandled intentionally or otherwise. Thus, it is critical that an independent and impartial forensic team be appointed to ensure that the families of the disappeared have the best chance of justice, and closure. Sign our petition and ask that Governor Cesar Horacio Duarte Jaquez select an impartial team of forensic experts to analyze human remains found near Cuauhtémoc City, and investigate allegations of intimidation by public officials.
I was shocked to hear reports of intimidation of relatives of disappeared people by public officials in Cuauhtémoc City. I urge you to investigate these allegations and to ensure that the agreements between the victims’ families and the state are honored. Furthermore, I urge you to protect all human remains found near Cuauhtémoc City between 2011 and 2014 until the mutually agreed panel of independent forensic experts are appointed to examine the remains.
Under international and domestic law, Chihuahua state has an obligation to uphold the rights of victims of crimes and human rights defenders. Therefore, it is the obligation of Chihuahua state law enforcement to promptly, effectively, and fairly investigate all forced disappearances and abductions, while ensuring the safety of the victims’ relatives and advocates. In order to achieve this it is critical that relatives of victims feel safe talking to public officials, and not be subject to intimidation. Public officials should not discourage the public from giving evidence, nor should they attempt to break previous agreements.
I urge you to do everything in your power to ensure that the families of the missing get the justice and answers they are searching for.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: US Embassy in Mexico City