The Mexican authorities must launch a full investigation into the alleged enforced disappearance of three members of the same farming family in the western state of Michoacán, Amnesty International said today.
The men, all from the Orozco Medina family in Nuevo Zirosto, were taken away by armed men believed to be members of the security forces - or men acting with their acquiescence - in separate incidents from July 2008 to May 2012. The men have not been seen again. The authorities deny they are in their custody.
Their relatives believe the disappearances are part of a campaign of harassment started by the local police in 2007 to try to force them to abandon their land.
"The authorities must carry out a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation into all three disappearances, provide information on the fate or whereabouts of each man and hold those responsible to account," said Amnesty International's Mexico researcher Rupert Knox.
"They must also protect all members of the Orozco Medina family believed to be at risk of harassment, unlawful detention, abduction or enforced disappearance."
Most recently, Moises Orozco Medina disappeared on 22 May 2012. He sent a text to his sister asking her to get help from the federal judicial police (Policia Federal Ministerial, PFM) because members of the municipal police were trying to take him away. He has not been seen since and his whereabouts remain unknown.
Moises' brother, Leonel Orozco Medina, disappeared in April 2009. Witnesses said they saw him being detained by a group of armed men wearing the uniform of the Federal Investigations Agency (Agencia Federal de Investigacion, AFI).
The family have filed a formal complaint with the Michoacán State Attorney General's Office but say they have been denied information on the case or access to their complaint.
In July 2008, an armed group of six people forced their way into the Orozco Medina house and abducted Leonel Orozco Ortiz, Moises's father. He has not been seen since and a formal complaint has been made to the Michoacán State Attorney General's Office.
Amnesty International believes that, in view of the information received on the involvement of agents of the state or persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State, the three cases may amount to enforced disappearance, a crime under international law and, sometimes, a crime against humanity.