Press Release

IACHR Categorically Rejects Smear Campaign in Mexico against Group of Experts and Executive Secretary

March 29, 2016

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) categorically rejects the smear campaign taking place in Mexico against the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts and against the Executive Secretary of the IACHR, Emilio Álvarez Icaza Longoria. The IACHR also emphatically rejects the preliminary inquiry initiated againstEmilio Álvarez Icaza Longoria for an alleged crime of fraud to the detriment of the State of Mexico, in connection with the work of the Group of Experts, following a complaint filed in the context of this smear campaign.

The Commission would like to point out that as Executive Secretary of the IACHR, Emilio Álvarez Icaza Longoria signed the cooperation agreement with Mexico on behalf of the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS), through “delegation of signature” authority. Under OAS rules and regulations, the State of Mexico’s voluntary financial contribution for the agreement’s implementation was deposited directly into the accounts of the OAS General Secretariat, through its Secretariat for Administration and Finance. The IACHR did not manage those funds; therefore, neither did the Executive Secretary.

The IACHR expresses its consternation and believes it is unacceptable to open a preliminary inquiry based on this complaint, which is reckless and unfounded, as it does not contain any fact that would constitute a crime.

The complaint states: “With the argument of bringing in a group of experts in various criminal matters, with the promise that they would meet the highest international standards and best practicesin the region, and that they would be independent, Mexican citizen Emilio Álvarez Icaza Longoria deceived the Government of the United Mexican States, because instead of that he brought together, knowing full well each of their backgrounds, the participation of individuals who in their previous work and duties and government terms failed the test of truth and legal probity and violated different laws in their respective countries.”

The technical assistance agreement was signed in 2014 by the IACHR, the representatives of the disappeared students of Ayotzinapa, and the State of Mexico, represented by the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs (SRE), the Secretariat of the Interior, and the Office of the Attorney General of the Republic (PRG). These same parties were the ones who expressed their agreement with the selection of the five experts that make up the Group of Experts.

The proposal for that agreement came about at the request of the State and of the students’ representatives, and it was signed in keeping with the objectives of the precautionary measures granted by the IACHR as a result of the events that took place on September 26-27, 2014, in the state of Guerrero. The parties agreed to “the incorporation of an Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts in human rights to conduct a technical verification of the actions initiated by the Mexican State” following the disappearance of the 43 student beneficiaries of the precautionary measures.

The IACHR designated an Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts, in agreement with the State and with the students’ representatives, for a period of six months, to performthe following functions: analyze the plans to search for the students alive and, if applicable, recommend best practices for a more efficient investigation; do a technical analysis of the lines of investigation to determine criminal liabilities; and do a technical analysis of the Plan for Integral Attention to the Victims of the Events of September 26 and 27. In the course of its mandate, the Group of Experts has issued four reports. Its investigation and preliminary conclusions report was presented on September 6, 2015. Subsequently, at the request of the State of Mexico and the victims’ representatives, the Group of Experts’ mandate was extended for an additional six months.

The Group of Experts’ investigation and preliminary conclusions report, presented on September 6, 2015, points to irregularities, inconsistencies, and/or gaps in State authorities’ investigation into the events. Specifically, the Group of Experts called into question the “historical version” of the events whichhad been released months earlier by then-Attorney General JesúsMurillo Karam, indicating that the students had been incineratedin the Cocula garbage dump. As a result of the Group of Experts’ work and recommendations, the State of Mexico has indicated that new avenues of investigation have been opened, which represents a significant step forward in the search for truth and justice in this case.

The Commission reiterates its support for the work carried out by the Group of Experts in all its aspects and joins in theGroup’s reports and recommendations.

Moreover, the IACHR emphatically supports the actions of its Executive Secretary, who at all times acted in accordance with the decisions and instructions of the members of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The Commission also expresses its absolute confidence in the integrity of its Executive Secretary, an opinion that is based on its knowledge of his work, both in connection with the specific subject of this baseless complaint and in his entire management of the IACHRExecutive Secretariat.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 044/16