Mexico is suffering a human rights crisis of epidemic proportions with disappearances, torture, mass graves and brutal murders so common they have become part of day-to-day life.
As he prepares to make his first trip to Mexico, here are five things Pope Francis should be aware of before setting foot on the country.
1. Thousands of people have been killed in the context of the so-called “war against organized crime”, but no one knows exactly how manyFor the second year in a row, the Mexican authorities have failed to publish any statistics on the number of people killed or wounded in clashes with the police and military forces, as part of their ill-conceived and utterly ineffective fight against organized crime.
2. More than 27,000 people have gone missing in the last decadeThe tragic disappearance of 43 rural students in September 2014 has lifted the lid on a crisis of disappearances of epidemic proportions. According to official figures, more than 27,000 people are still missing, almost half of them since President Peña Nieto came to power in 2012.
3. Mexico is one of the most dangerous places for journalists
According to the independent organization Reporters without Borders, Mexico is the one of the most dangerous countries for journalists to work in the western hemisphere. Across Mexico, journalists are routinely threatened, attacked and even killed, with three murdered because of their work in 2015 alone.
4. Torture is increasingly widespread
Torture and other ill-treatment is out of control across Mexico. Between 2013 and 2014, the number of reports of torture and other ill-treatment at the federal level doubled from 1,165 to 2,403, according to the country’s Attorney General’s Office. Very few cases are ever investigated.
5. And justice is so rare it is almost a foreign concept
For decades, Mexico’s judicial system has been utterly incapable of investigating the tens of thousands of reports of human rights abuses from every corner of the country.
Of the thousands of reports of torture registered between 2005 and 2013, federal courts only dealt with 123 cases, with just seven resulting in convictions under the federal law.