Over 40,000 people are disappeared across Mexico.
Some of these 40,000 may be alive, and some make up the 26,000 bodies that lie unidentified in morgues across the country. 

The terrifying figures of forced disappearance in Mexico speak not only of the crisis of extreme violence the country is living through, but also of the deep need to address structural injustices that allow human rights violations to continue without investigation or the punishing of those responsible. Forced disappearance is a deeply concerning phenomenon whose emotional impact on the victims is huge and difficult to overcome. 

There is an urgent need to demonstrate political will at all levels of the Mexican State to search for disappeared people, identify remains and return them respectfully to their families so they can have a dignified burial and so their families can begin to processes their grief.

The Paso del Norte Human Rights Centre in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua was created in 2001 by priest Óscar Enríquez Pérez to address human rights issues in the region.

The mission of the Human Rights Centre is to “promote and defend human rights with the involvement and engagement of people, particularly those who have been most affected, and to work towards a cultural transformation that is based on respect for life.” The members of the organization started carrying out this work in a context marked by violence against women, executions, corrupt security forces and a climate of impunity. 

In this context of violence and impunity, the Centre has emerged as a space that can advise and instruct the local community about their civil rights. Today, the Centre’s main areas of work are a comprehensive defense of rights and the accompaniment of victims of human rights violations, with a focus on cases of torture and enforced disappearances.

In October 2019, PBI UK welcomed Maricela Vazquez, a lawyer at the Paso del Norte Human Rights Centre, to London as part of a Europe-wide speaking and advocacy tour. She is featured in the video below, which covers the work of those fighting for truth on behalf of those disappeared and their families.

Film credit: Manu Valcarce

Quotes: 
"Because they took them alive! We want them back alive!"