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Police Inaction in Juárez Disappearances
Despite Evidence of Human Trafficking and Widespread Violence Against Women, Seven Disappearances in Juárez, Mexico, Remain Uninvestigated
Between March and July 2011, seven girls and young women disappeared in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. They were coming home from school, visiting family, looking for jobs. None have been found—in large part because their cases were only lightly investigated, if at all—despite strong evidence of their disappearances being related to human trafficking and taking place in the larger context of violence against women in Juárez.
Janeth Paola Soto Betancourt, Jessica Ivonne Padilla Cuellar, Marisela González Vargas, Nancy Iveth Navarro Muñoz, Perla Marisol Moreno Jurado, Claudia Soto Castro, and Brianda Cecilia Martínez Gutiérrez were between the ages of 16 and 26 upon their disappearances.
Nancy Iveth was kidnapped at gunpoint months prior to being disappeared. Brianda Cecilia’s case eventually investigated two suspects—the man who saw her for the last time, and her former employer—both of whom were suspects in other femicide cases. And yet, in multiple instances, it took police up to four years to open formal investigations into these seven cases.
Why is this a key case?
Femicide and abduction have been rampant in Juárez for years. Proceso, a Mexican news magazine, reported 727 disappearances of young women between 2010 and 2014. In another case, a member of the Los Aztecas gang admitted to paying off police to ignore kidnappings and forced prostitution being carried out by the gang. The extreme ambivalence of the Juárez investigative police force and a culture of impunity perpetuates continued violence against women and girls in Mexico. The possibility of the authorities exchanging women’s lives for money makes these cases infinitely more troubling.
How is RFK Human Rights Supporting This Case?
On December 7, 2016, RFK Human Rights and partner organization Center for the Integral Development of Women A.C. (CEDIMAC), filed a petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) regarding the disappearances of these seven young women and girls.
RFK Human Rights and CEDIMAC submitted observations on the admissibility and merits of the case in October 2021.
What is the Status of the Case?
RFK Human Rights and CEDIMAC are awaiting the state’s response to their October 2021 observations.
Name of the case (as it appears in the respective legal mechanism)
Women disappeared in Ciudad Juárez v. Mexico
Month/Year of filing
Legal mechanism in which the case is being litigated
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
Rights and legal instruments alleged violated (OR found to have been violated)
Articles 1.1 (obligation to respect rights), 2 (domestic legal effects), 3 (right to juridical personality), 4 (right to life), 5 (right to humane treatment), 6 (freedom from slavery), 7 (right to personal liberty), 8 (right to a fair trial), 11 (right to privacy), 19 (rights of the child), 24 (right to equal protection), and 25 (right to judicial protection) of the American Convention on Human Rights
Article 7 (to live free of violence) of the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against Women “Convention of Belém do Pará”