UN criticizes Mexico for lack of investigations into teenager’s forced disappearance

Archive – Demonstration to call for search for missing persons in Mexico – Jair Cabrera Torres/dpa

The UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED) has concluded for the first time that Mexican authorities breached their obligations by failing to thoroughly and impartially investigate the case of a 17-year-old boy who was taken from his home by armed men dressed in police uniforms in late 2013.

The facts date back to December of that year, when Yonathan Mendoza Berrospe was assaulted by six individuals who violently entered his home in the city of Veracruz while more than a dozen remained outside, in what appeared to be a security operation. The agents beat the young man before loading him into a van.

When the family went to the Naval Police headquarters, they saw some of the vehicles allegedly involved in the operation, so they ended up filing a complaint with the Prosecutor’s Office seeking legal protection. This injunction was filed in June 2015, after the authorities did not give any account of the situation of the missing young man.

In July 2021, in the absence of any response at the domestic level, Mendoza Berrospe’s mother brought the case before the Committee on Enforced Disappearances, which the Mexican government itself recognizes as competent to examine individual complaints. This group now concludes that the Mexican authorities should have proved, through investigations, that no security forces were involved in the disappearance.

The Committee has pointed out that such an investigation »must be undertaken seriously and not as a mere formality doomed in advance to be fruitless. It cannot depend on the procedural initiative of the victim or his or her relatives or on the private submission of evidence, without the State party effectively seeking the truth,» the opinion states.

One of the members of the committee, Juan José López Ortega, has welcomed what he considers an »important» decision, since, »for the first time, it establishes and specifies the standards for the diligent search for the victims of forced disappearance and for carrying out effective investigations to bring those responsible to justice».

The group also considers that Mexico has violated the family’s right to know the truth and to reparation, and hopes that this case will serve to promote a paradigm shift.

This case, like many others in Mexico, is sadly marked by impunity due to the lack of response from the authorities and the absence of prompt and adequate actions to search for the disappeared person and investigate his disappearance,» lamented López Ortega.


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