Preventing torture and enforced disappearance in Mexico

Project Description

Title: Strengthening the rule of law in Mexico II
Commissioned by: Federal Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany
Country: Mexico
Lead executing agency: National Search Commission (CNB) and Mexican Office for Domestic Affairs (SEGOB)
Overall term: 2019 to 2022

Proper burial of an unknown deceased person following exhumation. Copyright: GIZ/Lutz Baumann


According to the country’s own government, Mexico is experiencing a humanitarian crisis. There are significant challenges with regard to the organisation, coordination and constitutional control of the security and justice system. A high homicide rate, a very low crime clearance rate and widespread corruption indicate deficiencies in the rule of law and protection of human rights.

Social peace is under significant strain in Mexico: nearly 100,000 people have been officially registered as disappeared. At the same time, there are thousands of graves still unopened and more than 52,000 unidentified bodies. It is likely that scores of missing people are among the unidentified deceased. The lack of identification is putting forensic medical institutes under more and more strain. In addition, family members and those looking for missing people cannot find answers about what happened to their relatives.


Conditions for effectively preventing and investigating cases of enforced disappearance have improved. Victims are increasingly being identified.

Two Mexican and two German forensic doctors analysing a piece of skin. Copyright: GIZ/Tonatiuh Figueroa


On behalf of the German Federal Foreign Office, the project is helping to identify more unknown deceased persons in Mexico. Specifically, the mechanisms and structures of the Mexican National Search Commission and forensic medical institutes are improving.

Through cooperation with DNA analyses and by comparing fingerprints, for example, the project helps to identify victims of enforced disappearance and involve family members in these processes. Moreover, it is supporting the implementation of the Extraordinary Forensic Identification Mechanism (MEIF) and promoting a German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) exchange programme between Mexican and German forensic doctors. It is also supporting the implementation of a national anti-torture programme that aims to prevent and punish the use of torture methods in investigative work.

Last update: March 2022

Participantes presentes durante la aprobación del acuerdo para la implementación del Mecanismo Extraordinario de Identificación Forense (MEIF) Derechos de autor: GIZ/Jimena Fuentes Martínez