The Forensic Crisis in Mexico: More than 52 thousand unidentified dead people in Mexico according to official figures: MNDM Report
Mexico is experiencing a profound forensic crisis in terms of human identification: there are 52,000 unidentified deceased persons, according to official figures obtained by the Movement for Our Disappeared in Mexico (Movimiento por Nuestros Desaparecidos en México).
The Movimiento por Nuestros Desaparecidos en México (Movement for our Disappeared in Mexico – MNDM) has issued a report ("The Forensic Crisis in Mexico: more than 52,000 unidentified deceased persons"). The report in Spanish notes that the situation regarding unidentified deceased persons has reached crisis proportions.
A press release in Spanish about the report is available here. A synopsis of the report in English follows.
MNDM comprises 74 local collectives of families with disappeared family members (desaparecidos) located across 22 states in Mexico and three in Central America. The movement is also composed of several human rights organizations that have compiled a report exposing the forensic crisis that has resulted in the lack of identification of over 52,000 deceased Mexicans. The movement argues that the leading cause of the current forensic problem is the rise in violence and human rights violations caused by the war on drugs and the militarized approach taken by the Mexican government to combat it. They expose several problems with the current forensic system, including the lack of experts specialized in forensic identification and the lack of adequate training of many scientists assigned to forensic identification. Another issue is the low budgets allocated to forensic institutions and problems with the coordination of databases.
The report was created by using data provided under transparency laws in Mexico and the firsthand experience of families that have tried to find their missing family members. The report shows that of the 52,000 deceased, 60 percent are in mass graves in public cemeteries, while a shocking 22 percent of the deceased have an unknown or undetermined location.
The Mexican government and the UN have taken an essential step in addressing this forensic crisis by creating the Extraordinary Mechanism of Forensic Identification (
The MEIF is tasked with helping identify the 52,000 deceased and was formed on 4 December 2019. Its operations were delayed by the lack of a coordinating group. Fortunately, the government recently announced the coordinating group on 30 August 2021. The MEIF is important as it reflects the government's acknowledgment that the ordinary mechanisms to deal with the identification of deceased persons in Mexico are not currently sufficient.
also provides several other recommendations to help transform the ordinary forensic services in Mexico. Among these recommendations are the expansion, improvement, and autonomy of forensic services in Mexico and updating protocols for forensic identification. They also suggest the need for the approval of technical protocols in archeology, anthropology, necropsy, and odontology and the creation of national data banks to help with forensic identification, such as a national bank for forensic data. Most importantly, they seek to end the illegal practice of burying people who have not been identified into collective mass graves and continue international cooperation to help resolve this forensic crisis.
Source: Movimiento por Nuestros Desaparecidos en México (MNDM). August 2021.