Mexico apologizes for not protecting slain women

AP News
Posted: Nov 07, 2011 10:50 PM
Mexico apologizes for not protecting slain women

Mexico's government publicly apologized on Monday for failing to prevent the killings of three women in the border city of Ciudad Juarez and for the negligence of officials in investigating the crimes.

The apology is a response to a 2009 ruling by the Interamerican Court of Human Rights that besides seeking an apology, also asked Mexico to reopen investigations into the cases and to erect a memorial site in the empty lot where the bodies were found in 2001.

The state of Chihuahua, where Ciudad Juarez is located, has been plagued by the unsolved slayings of hundreds of women since 1993. After failing to receive justice in Mexico, the families of three of the dead women asked the international court to take up their cases. The court only ruled on those three cases.

"We apologize. It is our obligation to investigate these crimes," said Interior Deputy Secretary Felipe Zamora at an event in the half-finished memorial.

The Mexican government recognizes "the inconsistencies, errors and negligent acts of public officials in charge of the probes," he added.

Relatives of slain women nearby shouted demands for justice.

"We don't want mausoleums, we want investigations that can let us know where our daughters are and who killed them," said Jose Luis Castillo, whose daughter Esmeralda has been missing since 2009.

Zamora didn't say when or if the investigations would be reopened.

The bodies of eight women were found November 2001 in a trash-strewn lot where Mexican authorities built a somber memorial of concrete benches, a circular water fountain also made of concrete and a cement plaque with the names of the eight victims.

The families of three of the women appealed in 2003 for the court, which is a body of the Organization of American States, to take up the case.

Critics say police have mishandled dozens of murder cases and often tortured suspects into falsely confessing to killings.

Most of the victims were raped, killed and dumped in the desert outside of Ciudad Juarez, provoking outrage across the world. Many of the victims were young women who were last seen in the city's downtown or taking buses. Their bodies often did not appear until months later.