MEXICO CITY – Mexico's congress passed a law Monday to recognize and protect the rights of crime victims, a longstanding demand in a country where more than 47,500 people have died in 5½ years of drug-related violence, and thousands more have disappeared.
The law covers the dead, wounded, kidnapped or missing whether they are ordinary civilians or are members of drug cartels and other crime gangs. It also would cover victims of other crimes, like extortion.
The measure has now been approved by both houses of congress and must be signed into law by the president, who supports the move.
The law will establish a national registry of victims and set aside funds to compensate them, financed in part by assets seized from organized crime groups. The compensation payments could reach as high as one million pesos ($77,000) apiece.
The law requires authorities to make efforts to identify crime victims' remains or locate those who might still be alive.
Relatives of people who have gone missing during the drug violence often claim authorities are slow or reluctant to help find missing people.
Hundreds of bodies have been recovered from mass graves, and thousands more have been hacked to pieces, dissolved or dumped in vacant lots. Those victims, often believed to be drug gang members killed by rivals, frequently go unidentified.