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  • Relatives carry photos of some of the 43 missing students of the Ayotzinapa teachers

    Relatives carry photos of some of the 43 missing students of the Ayotzinapa teachers' training college during a protest to mark the eleven-month anniversary of their disappearance in Mexico City, Mexico August 26, 2015. | Photo: Reuters

The case of the missing 43 students highlights the problem of forced disappearances in Mexico.

A number of human rights organizers and defenders said Wednesday that forced disappearances are on the rise in Mexico, the newspaper La Jornada reported.

“Today we must say that (forced) disappearance occurs widely. In the past eight years, we have documented more than 26,000 cases,” said Mario Patron of the Miguel Agustin Pro Human Rights Center.

The human rights defenders made the comments during an event held in front of the office of the federal attorney general (PGR). They were joined by relatives of the 43 forcibly disappeared students from the Ayotzinapa teachers training college.

The case of the missing 43 students drew the public's attention to the problem of forced disappearances in Mexico. The state claims that the students were killed by an organized crime group after being turned over by municipal police. However, activists and relatives say that the state is attempting to cover up its role in the disappearance of the students.

RELATED: Justice for Ayotzinapa

Santiago Corcuera, from the U.N. Committee Against Forced Disappearances, said that on a personal level he believes the human rights situation in Mexico is even worse than the period known as the “Dirty War”, between 1968 and the late 1970s during which hundreds of activists and opposition political leaders were disappeared. 

Corcuera says forced disappearances now occur in a generalized way and not solely out of political motives. He also said that he felt that rather than seeing progress, the country had taken step backwards.

"We are witnessing serious setbacks caused by the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation, we are moving backward in some regards, (and) we move forward too slowly," Corcuera told La Jornada.

Other participants in the event, such as Jose Antonio Guevara of the Mexican Commission for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights said the attorney general's office must investigate pending cases of forced disappearances.

Nadine Reyes, daughter of a man forcibly disappeared in 2007, told La Jornada, “There is lack of political will to investigate cases of forced disappearances.”

RELATED: Remembering Latin America’s Disappeared

The Mexican state has been routinely criticized for its human rights record and handling of forced disappearances.

In February, a U.N. panel called on the Mexican government to adhere to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, under which all signatory parties are required to fully investigate enforced disappearances and bring all those responsible to justice.

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