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Press briefing note on Mexico and Mauritania

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights:  Rupert Colville
Location:   Geneva
Subjects:   (1)    Mexico &  (2)  Mauritania
Date: 26 April 2016

(1)   Mexico

We commend the invaluable work of the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (IGIE) in Mexico on the case of the enforced disappearance in Iguala of 43 students from the Ayotzinapa teacher-training college in Guerrero State, and the killing of six others in 2014. The Group, which was appointed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and invited by the Mexican Government to follow up on the investigation of the case, published its extensive 605-page report on Sunday.

The Iguala case received huge attention, not just in Mexico itself but all across the world, and became a test case of the authorities’ willingness and ability to tackle violent crime and corruption. As High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein stressed during his mission to Mexico last October, it is very important that the Government acts decisively on the IGIE’s recommendations and ensures the rights to truth and justice of the victims and their families*. We welcome the willingness expressed by the President of Mexico and the Attorney-General’s Office to take into serious consideration the Group’s recommendations and we urge them to fully explore the new lines of inquiry suggested by the Group, and to strengthen the investigations into this emblematic case.

We are however concerned about the many challenges and obstacles reported by the experts that may have prevented certain lines of inquiries from being further explored, including regarding the roles and responsibilities of the military and other official authorities. We call on the Government to ensure effective follow-up to the investigation report and to tackle the broader structural challenges it has exposed. We also encourage the Government to engage with the follow-up mechanism that the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights has announced that it will establish. The Iguala case shows the crucial role that international cooperation can play in helping States to fight impunity for serious human rights violations.

(2)  Mauritania

We deplore the confirmation of the death sentence for apostasy against a Mauritanian blogger, Mohammad Ould M’Kaitir, by the appellate court on 21 April.

Mr Ould M’Kaitir was convicted in the first instance by the criminal court in Nouadhibou in December 2014 for an article he had published online. He had expressed repentance on several occasions since, including during the appeals hearing.

We should like to stress that under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Mauritania became a State party in 2004, the death penalty, if not abolished, can only be applied for the most serious crimes.

We hope that the Supreme Court, which has now been seized with the case, will overturn the death sentence against Mr Ould M’Kaitir.

ENDS

* Please see the High Commissioner's full end-of-mission statement here: http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=16578&LangID=E

For more information and media requests, please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 97 67 / rcolville@ohchr.org),  Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9169 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org) or Cécile Pouilly (+41 22 917 9310 / cpouilly@ohchr.org)

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