12 years after the disappearance of 8 men from the Muñoz family, justice has not arrived

Chihuahua, Chih. June 18, 2023.- Twelve years ago, the Muñoz family gathered like thousands of other Mexican families to celebrate Father’s Day in the community of Anáhuac, in the state of Chihuahua, when they were attacked by a group of people. Although they asked for help, the municipal police took no action and left the scene; at dusk, a group of armed men wearing federal police insignia and uniforms arrived. Without saying a word and with great violence, they beat and took the men from the Muñoz family in private vehicles. In the case file there is important information about the Municipal Police involvement in the events.

Since then, the whereabouts of Toribio Jaime Muñoz González, Guadalupe Muñoz Veleta, Jaime Muñoz Veleta, Óscar Muñoz Veleta, Hugo Muñoz Veleta, Nemesio Solís González, Luis Romo Muñoz and Óscar Guadalupe Cruz Bustos are unknown.

Despite the information that exists about the probable participation of State law enforcement agencies in the disappearance of the Muñoz family, the Chihuahua Prosecutor’s Office has never treated the case as an enforced disappearance. At this time there is a person detained and awaiting trial, accused only of aggravated robbery, while the majority of the perpetrators remain free.

Initially, the person who is in custody was charged with the crime of disappearance perpetrated by individuals and aggravated robbery; however, a Chihuahua Judiciary Power magistrate decided that only the case for aggravated robbery be continued, arguing that at the time of the events, the crime of disappearance perpetrated by individuals did not exist.

The Magistrate’s decision is clearly contrary to the General Law on Enforced Disappearance, Disappearance Perpetrated by an Individual and the National Search System, which considers the permanent or ongoing nature of disappearances, that is, that they continue to be committed permanently until the disappeared person is found and therefore, as established, in the investigations that have been initiated prior to the entry into force of the Law and where proceedings have not yet begun before any judicial authority, the process must be followed for the crimes classified therein.

Currently, the Centro de Derechos Humanos de las Mujeres (Women’s Human Rights Center, CEDEHM) has promoted a writ of amparo to get a federal judge to apply the Law. At the same time, we will maintain the demand for «complete justice», which means that all the perpetrators be prosecuted, that the case be treated as enforced disappearance and that there be comprehensive reparations for the other members of the family. According to the National Registry of Missing and Disappeared individuals (RNPDNO) there have been a total of 47,803 disappeared persons from 1962 until before the entry into force of the aforementioned General Law. Thus, we think that the resolution of the Muñoz case may be relevant to the administration of justice in the crimes included in it.

We demand:

· That the General Law of Disappeared Persons be applied and that the crime of disappearance perpetrated by individuals be recognized.

· That a search be carried out considering search guiding principles.

· That all persons found responsible be investigated and punished and that the participation of State agents be the main line of investigation.

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