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Mexico: “Much remains to be done to deliver truth and justice in the Ayotzinapa case” – UN experts

GENEVA / MEXICO (26 April 2016) - A group of United Nations human rights experts* said today that the final report by the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (IGIE) of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in the case of the student teachers of Ayotzinapa identifies serious gaps in the investigations carried out so far by the authorities and shows that much remains to be done to unveil the truth, guarantee justice, and provide reparations to the victims.

Among other things, the Report by the IGIE shows serious deficiencies in the justice system, a worrying weakness of the State to investigate with due diligence gross human rights violations and the sophisticated level of coordination of some authorities in the commission of crimes.

“Through its report, the IGIE has made a very valuable contribution to the search for truth and justice in the Ayotzinapa case. It has fully vindicated the rights of the victims, offered new lines of investigation, and made appropriate recommendations; all this from within the highest international standards on human rights,” said the experts.

“The final report truly demonstrates the significance of technical assistance and international scrutiny, especially in a context of serious human rights violations such as the one experienced in Mexico,” they added. They noted that their conclusions were consistent with those of the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team, published in its Report on the Cocula landfill in Guerrero, which identified at least 27 irregularities and contradictions in the official investigations.

The human rights experts expressed their regret that in the second stage of their mandate the IGIE did not have the full support of the government and was subject to campaigns aimed to discredit its work and the results of its investigations. “However, none of these campaigns has devalued the solidity of its work, the seriousness of its findings, and the quality of its recommendations,” they stated.

“We also deplore the campaigns to discredit the legitimate and highly valuable work of various civil society organizations and human rights defenders who have supported the families of students and other victims. Besides putting at risk human rights defenders, these campaigns hurt the victims and their families, as well as society as a whole, in their right to know the truth and avoid the repetition of events that have touched them so deeply,” the experts said.

“Victims should be at the centre of all actions conducted by any State. We encourage them, as well as the Mexican society, to continue their legitimate demand until the government establishes the truth, clarifies the whereabouts of the students, punishes those responsible in accordance with the rules of due process, and ensures the right of victims to full reparation,” they added.

The UN experts expressed their full support to the decision made by the IACHR to establish a special follow-up mechanism and urged the State to participate and actively collaborate in such mechanism, stressing “the important role to be played by the National Commission of Human Rights ahead of the new phase that starts in Mexico without the IGIE.”

The experts appreciated the declaration of various authorities in response to the IGIE report that the investigations will continue until the facts are clarified. Likewise, they called for a speedy implementation of the recommendations made by the IGIE and by a number of United Nations bodies along with “the adoption and proper implementation of general laws on torture and enforced disappearances, which would give an important sign of Mexico’s real commitment to seriously address these grave issues.”

“The State must investigate and bring to justice all those responsible for the actions and omissions recounted by the IGIE, starting by those who perpetrated, by action or omission, the abhorrent human rights violations that occurred in September 2014, as well as the indications of torture and other abuses during the investigations, documented in the final report,” the experts concluded.

NOTE TO EDITORS: The final report by the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), on the enforced disappearances, extrajudicial executions and torture against student teachers of Ayotzinapa and other persons, occurred in the state of Guerrero in Mexico, in September 2014, was released on 24 April 2016.

(*) The experts: Ms. Houria Es-Slami, Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances; Mr. Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Ms. Mónica Pinto, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers; Mr. Christof Heyns, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; and Mr. Juan E. Méndez, UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. 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. Learn more, log on to:  http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/Pages/Welcomepage.aspx

UN Human Rights, Country Page – Mexico: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/LACRegion/Pages/MXIndex.aspx

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