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Home World News Washington Post World News Mexican group launches online guide to searching for missing persons

Mexican group launches online guide to searching for missing persons

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MEXICO CITY — A Mexican human rights organization on Wednesday launched an online guide for people searching for missing relatives, a real need in a country where authorities have been slow to act.

Mexico has nearly 110,000 missing, but many of the most effective searches are carried out by family members or activists. Mexico’s antiquated, underfunded police system has been overwhelmed by waves of gang kidnappings and murders.

The legal system, meanwhile, is secretive in both terminology and procedures, with little consideration for those unfamiliar with legal terms.

Because families have to go through a steep learning curve when someone goes missing, the online guide tells people what the legal steps are to file everything from a crime report to a constitutional order.

The Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Center hopes the guide will help people find and preserve evidence and testimonies, and ultimately find their loved ones.

María Luisa Aguilar, a director of the law center, said families “face every day with prosecutors who are at best indifferent to their requests.”

Surviving relatives often have to request and collect evidence such as video camera images and telephone data themselves.

Jacqueline Palmeros had to quickly learn all this for herself 2 1/2 years ago when her daughter Jael Montserrat disappeared after boarding a vehicle on the outskirts of Mexico City.

Palmeros hopes the new guide will help others “persevere in the pursuit of truth and justice,” and avoid having to learn everything along the way.

It’s a tough battle. Mexican authorities have about 52,000 unclaimed bodies that they have been unable to identify. With mortuaries overflowing, they are forced to bury them in pauper graves. This means that the cases of many missing persons may never be solved.



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