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Mexico faces crucial test in the investigation of the deaths and enforced disappearances of students in Guerrero

GENEVA (10 October 2014) – The investigation of the killings and enforced disappearances of students in Guerrero represent a crucial test for the willingness and the capacity of the Mexican State to deal with serious violations of human rights, a group of United Nations experts* said today.  

At the end of September, six people died and at least 17 others were injured after a series of events in the municipality of Iguala, following operations in which the local municipal police reportedly took part. Since then, 43 students from the Rural Normal School ‘Raúl Isidro Burgos’ Ayotzinapa remain disappeared.

“What happened in Guerrero is absolutely reprehensible and unacceptable. It is not tolerable that these kind of events happen, and even less so in a State respectful of the Rule of Law,” they added.

“For many years we have identified the impunity that prevails in México in cases of enforced disappearances, extrajudicial executions and torture. We have also highlighted the existing deficiencies in the search and identification of disappeared persons,” they stressed.

The experts urged the Mexican authorities to focus their efforts on finding the whereabouts of the disappeared persons to shed full light on these events. “We also ask them to punish the perpetrators and to protect the families of the victims and those who are investigating or supporting the efforts to determine the fate and whereabouts of the victims,” they said.

“We are extremely concerned about the murder of six people, including a 15 year old child and three students, one of which appeared with clear signs of torture, and the enforced disappearance of 43 students,” noted the experts, acknowledging the authorities’ response, by arresting 22 Iguala municipal police officers and eight others, whom they believe have participated in these acts.  

“We receive information on a daily basis that makes this story more frightening,” the experts noted in relation to the discovery a few days ago of six mass graves in areas near the city of Iguala.

“To date, it has not been confirmed that the bodies found in the graves, which have been burnt, belong to the disappeared students, however according to preliminary information, the remains found reportedly have injuries caused by firearms projectiles and blunt objects,” they added.

The experts welcomed the arrival of the Argentinian Team of Forensic Anthropology which will be involved in the process of identification of the remains together with the Office of the Attorney General of the Republic and the Office of the Attorney General of the State of Guerrero.

(*) The experts: The Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances; Christof Heyns, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; and Juan E. Méndez, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

“Special Procedures” is the largest body of independent experts in the United Nations Human Rights system. Special procedures is the general name of the independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the Human Rights Council that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Currently, there are 54 mandates -both thematic ones and those related to countries and territories, with 75 mandate holders.

Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity

For more information, log on to:
Disappearances: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Disappearances/Pages/DisappearancesIndex.aspx
Summary executions: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Executions/Pages/SRExecutionsIndex.aspx
Torture: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Torture/SRTorture/Pages/SRTortureIndex.aspx

UN Human Rights, country page – Mexico: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/LACRegion/Pages/MXIndex.aspx

For media requests, please contact:
In Mexico City: Gabriela Gorjón Salcedo (+5255 5061 6374 / ggorjon@ohchr.org)
In Geneva: Ugo Cedrangolo (+41 22 917 9286 / ucedrangolo@ohchr.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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Check the Universal Human Rights Index: http://uhri.ohchr.org/en