Historical ruling on enforced disappearances in Mexico

On 20 December 2018, the Inter-American Court of Human Right found the Mexican state guilty of the enforced disappearance of three civilians, and ordered to investigate their whereabouts and provide psychological support to their family members.

The case of Alvarado Espinoza et al vs Mexico is the first case of state-led human rights violations to be brought before the Inter-American Court since the country militarised its battle against drug cartels a decade ago.

Last year, during the Inter-American Court’s 123rd Regular Session in Costa Rica, SRT grantee Center for Women’s Human Rights (CEDEHM) represented the families of Nitza Paola Alvarado Espinoza, José Ángel Alvarado Herrera, and Rocío Irene Alvarado Reyes, who were taken by a group of soldiers in the state of Chihuahua in 2009. CEDEHM and other organisations had initially filed a lawsuit on the Alvarado case with the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights in 2010. The Commission issued its background report six years later and then forwarded the case to the Inter-American Court because of Mexico’s failure to comply with the recommendations, including the duty of investigating the disappearance of the Alvarados.

The ruling may pave the way for further discussions on the enactment of the Law on Internal Security, which since 2017 has further militarised public security in the country, allowing the army to intervene in any situation deemed a threat to public security.

Return to grantee stories