Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, 9 November 2022: The Office of the Prosecutor General in Nuevo Leon (FGJNL) and the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) launched a major new initiative today that can significantly enhance efforts to account for persons who have gone missing.
Working with the FGJNL, ICMP has customized its Spanish-language Online Inquiry Center (OIC) for the state of Nuevo Leon, making it fully accessible for families of missing persons and others, allowing users to report missing persons cases, follow the progress of individual investigations, and add information about cases as it becomes available.
Today’s launch is one of the results of a program undertaken between 1 January 2019 and 31 July 2022, implemented by ICMP and Citizens in Support of Human Rights (CADHAC) in cooperation with the FGJNL. The program was generously supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
“Efforts to account for missing persons in Nuevo Leon, and in Mexico as a whole, have been hampered because information about cases is routinely held by different agencies in different databases, and this information is often not shared,” ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger said at today’s launch. “Through this program, data stored in different registries has been checked, compared and consolidated and can now be accessed through ICMP’s Integrated Data Management System (iDMS). The portal to the iDMS, which can be accessed online from anywhere in Mexico and beyond, is the OIC.” Ms Bomberger added that the process that has now been created in Nuevo Leon “puts families of the missing fully in the driving seat.”
Pedro José Arce Jardón, acting head of the Prosecutor General’s Office, said the FGJNL had implemented more than 20 new missing persons protocols following ICMP recommendations. “Since the launch of the program this has enabled the Osseous Remains Laboratory (LARO), which was established under this initiative, to inspect 46,503 bone fragments. Of these, 230 selected by LARO for DNA testing have yielded 168 DNA profiles of victims. This 73-percent success rate is considerably higher than the figure achieved in the past. Although the new system has been directly responsible for just nine identifications so far, it is now fully operational and can deliver more identifications from now on.”
“Families must be at the center of the process,” said Sister Consuelo Morales, General Director CADHAC. “We must accompany and support them with expert skills and create a space where social and political actors do not compete but complement each other and contribute the best of themselves.”
During the four-year program, ICMP helped Nuevo Leon enhance its DNA identification capacities, creating a data-processing infrastructure for the registry of missing persons by implementing the iDMS, and improving governmental capacities to recover and identify human remains. Additionally, ICMP has provided operational support and technical assistance in the processing of human remains recovered from the “El Tubo” case in Hidalgo, Nuevo León.
ICMP analyzed 78,889 records of missing persons and through a specialized process of data analysis identified duplicate records and consolidated a unique registry containing 33,016 records. Of the records in the unique registry, 7,646 are confirmed as currently missing; the status of 10,350 is still to be confirmed; and 15,020 are closed cases (persons who have been found alive or identified by DNA). Just 25 percent of active cases have sufficient reference samples to make an identification.
ICMP delivered training to the Forensic Services (ICSP) on two new DNA extraction techniques that increase the possibility of obtaining a profile from small and difficult bone samples, as well as training in archeology and anthropology. ICMP is in the process of training FGJNL staff in the use of the iDMS.
ICMP is a treaty-based intergovernmental organization with Headquarters in The Hague, the Netherlands. Its mandate is to secure the cooperation of governments and others in locating missing persons from conflict, human rights abuses, disasters, organized crime, irregular migration and other causes and to assist them in doing so. It is the only international organization tasked exclusively to work on the issue of missing persons.