International academic-civil society forum at the University of Guadalajara, Mexico
The first day of the event was marred by the theft of several laptop computers, some containing sensitive information, from participants. The thefts were carried out by unknown individuals who posed as organisers, mingling with attendees as they arrived at the university campus where the event was being held. Authorities are investigating both the crime and possible political intention behind it: Jalisco is one of the Mexican states with the highest level of ongoing incidence of disappearance, perpetrated by both organised crime and state officials, and often going unpunished due to corruption and collusion.
On Monday 2 March Prof Collins took part in a similar forum, this time in Mexico's capital city, alongside Professor Naomi Roht Arriaza and Leonor Arteaga, Commissioner of El Salvador's Search Commission for the Disappeared, with whom Prof Collins has been working closely during her recent Open Society Foundation funded project supporting state responses to enforced disappearance.
Photo: Prof Collins with other participants. In the background, an exhibation of portraits of the 43 Mexican students disappeared by police in Ayotzinapa in 2014. The portraits, done by art students at the University of Guadalajara, may soon travel to Belfast as part of an itinerant exhibition to be organised as part of phase 2 of the same project.