Drug Cartels Blamed for Mass Graves in Veracruz

By Sarah Lafen
Impunity Watch Desk Reporter, North America

MEXICO CITY, Mexico — Within the past two weeks, two mass graves have been found in Veracruz, Mexico that are attributed to the work of local drug cartels.  Sometime within this past week, over 250 human skulls were found in a mass grave in the Mexican state Veracruz, according to state attorney general Jorge Winckler.  Winckler did not comment on the exact day they found the grave, however he noted that this particular site might be the largest grave in Mexico.

Clothing hangs on a fence that surrounds a recently discovered mass grave in Alvarado (Photo Courtesy of Reuters)

Mexican authorities believe the human remains belong to victims of drug cartels and organized crime from recent years.  Identification of the remains has begun, however has proved to be a slow and complicated process.  Authorities are working to match the skulls to those in their database of missing people.  Members of Colectivo Solecito, a group of relatives of the missing victims, aided discovery of the mass grave.

Martha Gonzalez, a member of Colectivo Solecito, noted that some will finally get closure as a result of the discovery.  She recognized that although the authorities just give her the bones of her victim relative, she will be able to keep them somewhere safe, “put a flower on it,” and will be able to know they “are really there and resting.”

This past Sunday, another 47 skulls were unearthed from a few different locations near the town of Alvarado.  Winckler said that the remains were found in eight different unmarked graves found within a 120-square meter area.  So far, authorities have been able to match the remains to five people.

Winckler blames drug traffickers for using Veracruz for many years as a dumping ground for bodies.  An ongoing turf war between the Zetas cartel and the Jalisco New Generation cartel is suspected to contribute to the high amounts of violence in the area.  On March 1, 2017, 11 bodies were found near a popular tourist site.

Winckler also blamed the previous state government for not taking enough action to find and identify the bodies of people reported missing.  Alluding to former governor Javier Duarte, who has charges of money laundering, organized crime, and looting state coffers against him, Winckler pointed out that “[f]or many years, the drug cartels disappeared people and the authorities were complacent.”

 

For more information, please see:

BBC — Mexico Violence: Skulls Found in New Veracruz Mass Grave — 20 March 2017

Reuters — Mexico Drug War Investigators Unearth 47 More Skulls in Mass Graves — 20 March 2017

Newsweek — Drug Cartels Blamed for Mass Grave Discovery in Mexico — 19 March 2017

CNN — ‘One Big Mass Grave’: More than 250 Human Skulls Found in Mexico — 15 March 2017

China’s Government Forced to Address Water Pollution

By: Nicole Hoerold
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia 

BEIJING, China – As World Water Day just passed, it seems fitting to address the water pollution and water shortages plaguing southeast Asia. China has a particular difficulty with pollution and has begun to take action to counteract its consequences. Many Chinese towns and cities rely on polluted water sources, and the pollution’s effects have begun to materialize.

A severely polluted Shaying River in Henan Province, China. Photo courtesy of Dengjia/CNN.

Residents of Dawu, located in China’s Henan province, say that they are being killed by their water supply. A major water source for the region is the Ying River, which has been heavily polluted for over a decade.

The river’s poisoned water has, over time, spread its toxins to underground water sources including those used for irrigation. A villager by the name of Wu Zongjun claims to personally know twenty individuals diagnosed with cancer in his village since 2010. In 2013, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report which confirmed the correlation between the water pollution and increases in cancer diagnoses in the region.

Unfortunately, the water crisis extends far beyond the Dawu village, as many Chinese towns and cities face significant water pollution. Moreover, cities and towns, including the nations capital, suffer from frequent water shortages.

Other governments around the globe face similar difficulties in supplying clean water sources. Nearly one third of the people in sub-Saharan Africa do not have a safe drinking water supply. The World Water Council has called on governments to invest adequate amounts of their budgets towards clean water projects. World Water Day has reminded global citizens of the importance of spreading awareness to try and make a difference. There is still much to be done to supply all in need with clean water.

For more information, please see: 

CNN – Can China fix its mammoth water crisis before it’s too late? – 21 March, 2017

ABC News – African governments urged to spend more on clean water – 22 March, 2017

Inter Press Service – Asia’s Water Politics Near the Boiling Point – 21 March, 2017 

Eco-Business – Fighting China’s war on pollution – 20 March, 2017

Report of Symposium on the Future of the Field of International Justice

EDITOR’S NOTE: Publication forthcoming in Impunity Watch’s 2017-2018 Annual Review.

March 10, 2017

THE FUTURE OF THE FIELD OF INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE

by Professor Jennifer Trahan

Project Overview

A Scenarios workshop on the Future of the Field of International Justice was conducted on February 10, 2017, at NYU’s Center for Global Affairs. It consisted of an expert roundtable discussion of potential future scenarios for the field of international justice—the tribuna