Mexico's forensic emergency with thousands of corpses "stacked" and unidentified


Since 2006, there have been 37,443 corpses in Mexico, for which there is no clarity about their identity and severe doubts in the execution of the necropsy, and the death certificate.

Mexico's forensic emergency. Image: EFE
Mexico's forensic emergency. Image: EFE

Among this universe, there are 8,116 unidentified bodies "stacked" in the 263 amphitheaters of the country, which present overcrowding of 2,945 corpses, as confirmed by the national authorities themselves.

The forensic emergency that represents some 40,000 missing persons accumulated in the last decade, forces Mexico to rethink the strategy to combat the high number of missing persons in the country.

"We must rethink the course and we must specify a policy that guarantees dignified treatment and identification of bodies found in forensic services and mass graves and even in clandestine graves," said Alejandro Encinas, the Undersecretary of Human Rights on Monday.

Presenting the report, which was attended by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Encinas described as "very severe" the forensic emergency in Mexico and announced new forensic institutes and 15 cemeteries in nine states of the country.

The regional institutes will be in Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Sonora, Baja California Sur, Sinaloa, and Veracruz. While the cemeteries will be distributed as follows: 3 in Veracruz, 3 in Sinaloa, 2 in Jalisco, 2 in Guerrero, and one in Michoacán, Baja California, Colima, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas.

Encinas said that the objective of the rethinking "is to prevent further accumulation of the backlog" and resolve the attention of day-to-day cases, the cases that are waiting and the attention of the clandestine graves.

The forensic work should be reoriented with approved protocols that give priority to identification with multidisciplinary teams and with the material that allows fingerprint, biometric and genetic identification.

There has been a lack of infrastructure for the development of proof of identification of persons, shortage of personnel specialized in forensic services and lack of resources for the effective operation of all forensic specialties. In addition to the lack of approved criteria for the conservation and treatment of the corpses and the ignorance of the regulations in the matter and the insufficiency of forensic cemeteries in the country.

The official admitted in a lecture that, along with the increase in homicides and missing persons, "a despicable practice was encouraged since a large number of bodies were not necropsied and were unduly buried in different mass graves, with the argument that there was an overload of forensic services."

About the clandestine graves, it was pointed out that between 2006 and 2018, 2,190 were registered, of which 3,169 were exhumed, and that so far this year 426 clandestine graves have been located, of which 529 corpses were exhumed.

The measures of the government before the emergency

Among the measures that the government announced to combat this emergency, the hiring of specialists such as anthropologists and forensic archaeologists to "meet the demand in the intervention of clandestine inhumations" stands out.

Likewise, the Law on Forensic Matters and the creation of the Human Identification Law will be promoted, with the participation of experts in forensic matters, forensic services and the national registry of the population. Anticipated that the budget for this first stage will be 410 million pesos (USD 21.3 million).

"Not only must we accompany, but we must also ensure an adequate search to locate missing persons and ensure their identification, we want a dignified treatment to the bodies and guarantee their right to identity," said Encinas.

The outstanding debt with the disappeared

For years, the relatives of the disappeared persons in Mexico have demanded from the federal government improvement in the processes of identification of the bodies and better security policies at a national level that guarantees the welfare of the population. However, it remains a pending debt.

On Monday, dozens of women presented themselves in front of the president with placards and slogans, to demand that, if necessary, the president himself intervene in their cases. For more than an hour and a half, and between each intervention, a family member took the opportunity to take the microphone and present his case to the president.

"I have looked for all the presidents and there has never been a result," said Maria Gonzalez, who came from Puebla to give voice to her missing son.

Faced with the constant demands of relatives, Tabasco asked the relatives to advance in the purpose of finding the disappeared and fighting violence in Mexico. "I will not hide, I will always face, difficult, painful and uncomfortable, I will always face you, this unfortunate affair is the worst inheritance left us by previous governments," said López Obrador.


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