Press Release

Follow-Up Mechanism to Ayotzinapa Case Conducted First Visit to Mexico

December 21, 2016

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Washington, D.C.—The Follow-Up Mechanism related to the precautionary measure granted in favor of the students from the “Raúl Isidro Burgos” rural school in Ayotzinapa (PM 409/14), and to the recommendations made by the Inter-Disciplinary Group of Independent Experts, carried out its first visit to Mexico on November 9-12, 2016. The delegation was made up of the President of the IACHR, James Cavallaro; the IACHR Rapporteur for Mexico and coordinator of the Follow-Up Mechanism, Enrique Gil Botero; IACHR Executive Secretary Paulo Abrão; and technical staff of the IACHR Executive Secretariat. 

The main purpose of the visit was to publicly present the Work Plan of the Follow-Up Mechanism, which lays out the methodology for following up on the case involving the disappearance of 43 students in the state of Guerrero in September 2014. The Follow-Up Mechanism met with high-level officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Office of the Attorney General of the Republic (PGR), and the Ministry of the Interior to explain the work plan and the methodology in detail. The delegation also met with the missing students’ family members and their representatives in Ayotizinapa. It held additional meetings with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the National Human Rights Commission, and the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team. 

During the visit, a working meeting was held on Precautionary Measure 409/14. The IACHR took note of the conditions established by the students’ family members for continuing a dialogue with the State: 1) that they be notified of the results of the PGR’s internal audit investigation into alleged irregularities in the investigation; 2) that the search area be expanded using LIDAR technology; and 3) that new inquiries be conducted into the alleged involvement of members of other police forces (municipal, state, and federal). The Commission urges the State to address these requests as soon as possible so that this forum for dialogue between the parties can resume. 

Based on the information received during the visit and the recommendations of the Inter-Disciplinary Group of Independent Experts, the Follow-Up Mechanism made its first request for information to the State regarding various issues concerning progress in the investigation, the process to search for the missing students, the matter of comprehensive attention to the victims and their family members, and follow-up measures related to the case. 

The IACHR and the Inter-Disciplinary Group of Independent Experts have repeatedly expressed the importance of properly investigating indications of involvement by members of State security forces in these events. Recently, the IACHR has learned about information exposed publicly by an investigation done by journalist Anabel Hernández, called “The True Night of Iguala,” which was published recently in the media, about the alleged participation of army soldiers in the events of September 26-27, 2014, in Iguala, as well as the alleged existence of a PGR document in which its Inspector General’s Office issues instructions to investigate members of the 27th Infantry Battalion along the same lines. Given the seriousness of the information published, particularly with respect to high-level State authorities, the Commission urges the State to fully investigate these allegations.  

In that connection, to ensure due diligence in the investigation, notwithstanding the need to obtain and assess additional evidence, the authorities should pay particular attention to circumstantial evidence, indicia, and presumptions, which are especially important in cases of forced disappearance. 

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. 195/16