Press Release

IACHR Expresses Solidarity with Ayotzinapa Families and Urges Mexico to Avoid Impunity

September 27, 2017

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Washington, D.C.—Three years after the disappearance of 43 students from the “Raúl Isidro Burgos” teacher-training school in Ayotzinapa, Mexico, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses its solidarity with the families and notes for the record that the truth about what happened has yet to be established and justice has yet to be done. The Commission urges the State to redouble its efforts to find the missing students and ensure that this case so emblematic of gross human rights violations does not remain in impunity.

“It has been three years since the tragic night of September 26—1,095 days of unimaginable pain for the family members of the 43 students, who are still missing,” said the IACHR Rapporteur for Mexico, Commissioner Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño. “At the Inter-American Commission, we continue working to support the families in their difficult search for the truth, and we will not give up until we find it. Our commitment to them and to the missing students remains as valid as ever, because Ayotzinapa cannot be left without justice,” she added.

“The perseverance and strength of the students’ family members is admirable,” the President of the IACHR, Commissioner Francisco Eguiguren, said. “The fathers and mothers of the 43 missing students give meaning to the IACHR’s work, keep the memory of the disappeared alive, and help to create a collective conscience rooted in truth. Thanks to them, new lines of investigation have been opened up, based on indications from the evidence that has been found. The family members were also pivotal to the creation of our Special Follow-Up Mechanism. Three years after the students’ disappearance, we express and renew our absolute commitment to continue supporting the family members until we know the truth and justice is done. There is no other possible outcome,” Eguiguren said.

The Special Follow-Up Mechanism was created by the IACHR to monitor the recommendations made by the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI), as well as the precautionary measure granted on October 3, 2014, which remains in force. The IACHR and the Mexican State in 2016 agreed on full funding for the Follow-Up Mechanism to make periodic visits to Mexico and maintain an open dialogue with the students’ relatives and their representatives, the Mexican State, and other relevant actors. The Inter-American Commission appreciates the information it has received from the family members and their representatives, the State, and others in the context of the Follow-Up Mechanism’s work. Its report is scheduled to be presented in December, and the activities and results of its most recent visit were published in a press release dated August 30, 2017.

The IACHR regrets that, three years after the events in question, the whereabouts of the missing students remain unknown. The IACHR reiterates its concern about the slow pace in coming to conclusions, both in the search activities and in the effective clarification of the various lines of investigation indicated by the Interdisciplinary Group. Moreover, not a single person has been prosecuted in this case for the crime of forced disappearance, and no new charges have been filed in the case since December 2015.

The Commission calls to mind that forced or involuntary disappearance is one of the most serious and cruel human rights violations, one that continues to be perpetrated as long as there is uncertainty about the ultimate fate of the disappeared person. In this context, the Commission underscores the Mexican State’s obligation to diligently and thoroughly exhaust all lines of investigation concerning these events, including any that may link the potential participation of agents of the State and security forces at all levels, as well as all omissions and possible obstructions of justice.

The IACHR welcomes the use of LIDAR remote sensing technology to expand the search areas; the strengthening of the Office of Investigation in the Iguala case with more than 90 people to deal exclusively with this case; and the special treatment provided to Aldo Gutiérrez and Edgar Vargas. The IACHR reiterates to the State the importance of giving priority to evidence and proceedings related to the fifth bus.

The IACHR also recognizes the committed, professional efforts undertaken day after day by the representatives of the relatives of the disappeared, and condemns the obstacles they have had to face, including attacks on some of them, as well as the alleged attempt to target them with spyware. The Inter-American Commission urges the State to thoroughly investigate these incidents.

"Our institutional determination is to continue the work with the Special Follow-Up Mechanism until we find the 43 young men, the truth of what really happened is established, and justice is done," Commissioner Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño said.

A principal, autonomous body of the 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. 145/17