This is what to do when a person goes missing in Mexico

What to do when a person disappears? These are some mechanisms for reporting missing persons in Mexico.

This is what to do when a person goes missing in Mexico
Who to contact and what to do when a person goes missing in Mexico? Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko / Unsplash

Disappearances of people in Mexico are an "alarming phenomenon," according to a recent report by the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances published in mid-April 2022, in which it urged the Mexican state to curb the increase in the number of missing persons.

According to a recent UN report, citing official figures, there are more than 95,000 people registered as missing in the country between 2006 and 2021, cases it described as "an indescribable human drama". But the drama does not stop there: the country has reported a shocking 52,000 unidentified deaths, according to a recent UN report.

"For disappearances in Mexico to stop being the paradigm of the perfect crime, the response to all these factors is urgent, both for cases that began in the past, as for those perpetrated recently," said Carmen Rosa Villa Quintana, president of the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances in the first visit to the country in November 2021.

Cases of missing persons are a daily drama, which although some state agencies are working to resolve, the UN highlighted "that a generalized situation of disappearances continues in a large part of the state's territory, in the face of which, as we have been pointing out since 2015, '[impunity and re-victimization] prevail,'" according to the report.

What to do when a person disappears? These are some mechanisms for reporting missing persons in Mexico.

National Search Commission

This tool, which can be accessed through the website was launched in 2019 and through it, you can report the disappearance of a person in Mexico. For this online report, relatives or acquaintances of the missing person must provide useful data for the investigation such as the date, time, and place of the last time the missing or unlocated person was seen.

A form must also be filled out with information about the presumed victim such as name, age, gender, physical description, particular signs, and other data that may allow identification. You can also call 55-13-09-90-24 or 800-028-7783 from anywhere in Mexico, or 185-52-62-31-09 from outside the country to report the missing person. The report can be made anonymously.

Amber Alert

This is a mechanism to search for and promptly locate minors reported missing. This mechanism involves federal, state, and municipal authorities, the media, civil and academic organizations, and "all those who can provide support within the scope of their competencies", according to the Mexican Government.

Once the report of the disappearance of a person under 18 years of age is received, the authorities will decide whether to activate the Amber Alert or if the search will be carried out through other mechanisms. For this it is necessary to verify that:

The missing person is a minor.
There is information about the person and the circumstances of the disappearance.
The child or adolescent is in "imminent danger of suffering serious harm".

When should you wait to make a report?

The Government urges that when a minor goes missing, it is imperative to make an immediate report to the authorities, as "this increases the possibility of locating".

Amparo Law or "Amparo buscador"

This is a tool by which "a person, on behalf of the disappeared person, attributes to one or more authorities the realization of an enforced disappearance" and requests a judge to issue the measures that are necessary for the location and release of the victim, according to the Government of Mexico.

In other words, it is a judicial tool with which a person can ask a judge to search for a person who is a victim of forced disappearance. That is, disappeared by authorities or with collaboration or complicity, says the page of the Government of Mexico.

"This procedure serves to tell state authorities: "Show me the body" or "Show me the detained person", to prove that the person has not been murdered, tortured, or disappeared by the police or other state authorities," explains the web page about this tool.

How do I request it?

If you know a person who is a victim of enforced disappearance, you should apply directly to a judge.
Any person can file such a petition, including children and adolescents.
If you cannot go to court, you can file the lawsuit on the website of the Federal Judiciary.
The Amparo is filed in the name of the alleged victim. And you must detail the information you know, and you don't need to have a lawyer.
It does not matter how much time has passed since the forced disappearance.

Local Search Commissions

Throughout Mexico, there are local search commissions for missing persons where you can file a search request in 32 states of the country. Click here to download the document (with information updated as of April 2022).