The Group of Independent Experts (GIEI), whose charter will end on April 30, outlined a set of recommendations to the Mexican legislature to create a Forced Disappearance Law.
In the 17-page document, the experts recommend that any act of forced disappearance be considered a continuing offense, as long as the offenders continue to hide the fortunes and whereabouts of the disappeared, and as long as the outcomes have not been revealed.
The GIEI also suggests that the objective of the Law should go beyond finding the disappeared, punishing the responsible and preventing future crimes to also create mechamisns for investigation, the right to truth, access to information and guarantees that such crimes will not be repeated. They also argue that the crime should never be investigated by military authorities.
The Law should also create the principle of universal jurisdiction for forced disappearance. In principle, universal jurisdiction would give the Mexican state the authority to investigate, judge and punish a person who has committed the crime regardless of their nationality, the nationality of the victim or the location where the crime was committed.
The punishments for the different offenses outlined in the Law should be harsh, but not unredeemable. An informal procedure to search for disappeared people, that can be implemented quickly, should also be designed.
Families of the disappeared should be allowed to participate in the search, with guarantees of protection and security. The participation of the federal Attorney General’s Office (PGR) as well as state and local prosecutors is vital.
There should be a format for the search for disappeared people, that should include information about the disappeared, personal information, level of schooling and current enrollment information, occupation, membership in any sort of group, medical history, dental history, dressing habits, telephone numbers, social media accounts and other pieces of information that would be helpful.
Exhumation and conservation of remains must be carefully regulated. Families of the victims should have access to places where human remains have been found as part of the right to the truth, but they should not interfere with the work of the authorities.
There must be full restitution to the families of the disappeared. Monetary compensation should be as part of an effort to recognize responsibility.
Restitution should not be subject to the Law of Transparency, nor to other similar laws or procedures that would expose the victims to other crimes.