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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Students join international team addressing human rights violations in Mexico

Throughout the summer, a group of U of M students worked as members of a cross-institution team of students and researchers addressing human rights violations in Mexico. Fellow researchers are based at FLACSO-Mexico and Oxford University. As news continues to emerge regarding enforced disappearances and related impunity in Mexico, advocates and scholars are increasingly interested in collecting information that may contribute to finding, stopping and prosecuting perpetrators. Within this context, the group has formed an "Observatory on Disappearances and Impunity". The overall project is designed to systematize existing data from various sources in order to implement practical strategies to address impunity for the human rights violations taking place in Mexico. The Observatory seeks to raise public visibility and examine data that may advance justice for the victims.

The U of M students are working specifically on media analysis of reported disappearances. The team is coding newspaper reports of disappearances, providing a contribution to the larger initiative to create a fuller, more accessible database of information on the victims of enforced disappearances and the individuals and groups committing the crimes. The team is scouring media sources for articles relevant to cases - searching for a number of facts and patterns about each. Through this process, the students are able to document patterns in specific states and regions regarding perpetrators and victims, as well as the government’s lack of investigation in these cases. This work complements on the ground research being done by the team based in Mexico City under the leadership of Professors Karina Ansolabehere and Leigh Payne. Together, the students are learning valuable research skills, and applying them to a current and critical human rights crisis.