Press Release

Follow-Up Mechanism to Ayotzinapa Case Makes Third Visit to Mexico

August 30, 2017

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Mexico City – The Mechanism for Monitoring the precautionary measure granted on behalf of the students of the “Raúl Isidro Burgos” rural school in Ayotzinapa and following up on the recommendations of the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI), carried out its third official visit to Mexico from August 28 to 30, 2017. The purpose of the visit was to monitor compliance with the precautionary measure and with the Interdisciplinary Group's recommendations related to progress in the investigation, the search for the missing students, comprehensive attention to victims and their family members, and structural measures to ensure non-repetition.  The delegation was made up of the IACHR Rapporteur for Mexico and coordinator of the Follow-Up Mechanism, Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño, and technical staff of the IACHR Executive Secretariat.

Two years and eleven months after the disappearance of the 43 students, their situation and whereabouts remain unknown. During the delegation's visit to the “Raúl Isidro Burgos” school, family members of the disappeared voiced their frustration with the lack of concrete progress with finding their loved ones and the anguish they feel as the third anniversary of the tragic events approaches with no sign of truth or justice emerging. The IACHR urges the State to expedite the work of searching for the disappeared students.

The Attorney General's Office (PGR) informed the delegation regarding activities undertaken in the investigation since the last visit by the Special Follow-Up Mechanism within the framework of the timeline established for that purpose. The IACHR appreciates the appointment of a team of more than 90 people dedicated exclusively to this investigation and trusts that this potential will translate into results in terms of approximating to the truth of what happened on September 26 and 27, 2014.

The IACHR recognizes the work done by the PGR in connection with the telephone information of the Ayotzinapa students and the perpetrators of the acts committed.  Currently, it has been established with certainty that the students' phones and chips were used well after the night of the 26th/27th September 2014: a fact that, combined with other evidence, corroborates the need to discard the initial version of events claiming that all the phones had been incinerated in the Cocula municipal waste dump. The Commission reiterates that spreading that hypothesis, which has already been ruled out by the GIEI, places a hurdle between the victims and their family members and jeopardizes the quest for truth and justice in this case.

The Commission takes note of the information provided regarding circumstantial evidence on the identity of persons of interest for the investigation. The identification and subsequent arrest of those persons would help produce valuable information regarding the whereabouts of the students. The IACHR trusts that the information received will be corroborated with appropriate evidence.

The IACHR urges the State to adopt the necessary measures to actually carry out the arrest of the policemen in Huitzuco alleged to have been involved in the events as a step toward throwing light on what happened and punishing those responsible. It also urges the State to move forward with the investigation of the federal police officers identified as allegedly being responsible for covering up the events.

The IACHR has received information in connection with legal assistance it requested from the Government of the United States. The line of investigation regarding the possible connection between the facts of this case and the movement of drugs to the United States is still of the utmost importance and needs to be pursued further in light of all the investigation materials contained in the file. The Commission urges the State to give priority to evidence and proceedings relating to the location of the fifth bus.

Regarding search activities, the IACHR appreciates the ongoing use of LIDAR remote sensing technology to obtain information on more quadrants around Iguala and thereby expand the search areas. The PGR, together with experts proposed by family members, will jointly analyze the images and subsequently conduct on-site visits with a multidisciplinary team. At the same time, the IACHR reiterates its invocation to the Mexican State to create a database of graves in the state of Guerrero that can be replicated in every federal entity.

With regard to attending to victims, the IACHR recognizes the Agreement that has been reached on commitments and assistance measures with regard to medical and other care for Aldo Gutiérrez Solano. This constitutes a first step toward enabling Aldo to return home and will assist his recovery. The IACHR hopes that the move can be made soon in accordance with the necessary medical specifications.

In connection with International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, which is being commemorated today, the IACHR expresses its solidarity with the family members of disappeared persons who live day after day of anguish caused by not knowing the whereabouts of their loved ones.   The Commission reiterates its concern at the critical extent of disappearances of persons in vast areas of Mexico, with more than 30,000 people missing, according to official data. Accordingly, the Commission urges the Mexican State to take decisive steps to ensure that the country swiftly enacts a General Law against Enforced Disappearance that meets international human rights standards, enjoys the indispensable support of the families and organizations following and advancing the process, and is accompanied by provision of the resources needed for its actual, effective implementation. 

During the visit, the Mechanism met with the family members and representatives of the students for whom precautionary measures have been granted. The delegation also met with Attorney General Raúl Cervantes and senior staff of the Secretariat for Foreign Affairs, the Interior Ministry, and the Office of the Attorney General. It had additional meetings with Luis Raúl González, President of the National Human Rights Commission, and with Jan Jařab, the representative in Mexico of the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights. The IACHR thanks the Mexican State for the cooperation it provided to the Follow-Up Mechanism in carrying out its work and greatly appreciates the cooperation and information provided by the families of the 43 students and their representatives.

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 and to defend 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. 130/17