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Statement by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, during the signing ceremony of the Agreement between Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide guidance and technical assistance in the Ayotzinapa case.

Mexico City, 8 April 2019

- Mr. Marcelo Luis Ebrard Casaubón, Secretary of Foreign Affairs,
- Ms. Olga Sánchez Cordero, Secretary of the Interior,
- Ms. Martha Delgado, Undersecretary for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights
- My fond regards to the mothers, fathers, families and human rights defenders accompanying the families of the 43 disappeared students of Ayotzinapa.

Good morning to all.

I am pleased to participate today in the signing ceremony of the Agreement through which my Office in Mexico will provide guidance and technical assistance in the Ayotzinapa case1. This is a paradigmatic case that shows the magnitude of disappearances in Mexico and the challenges that its justice system faces in addressing human rights violations.

I recognize and applaud the will of the government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to start a new chapter in the Ayotzinapa case, and to address the shortcomings in the investigation of the then-Attorney General's Office that have been pointed out by national and international organizations. This is an important step towards truth and justice in the enforced disappearance of the 43 students of the Raul Isidro Burgos teacher’s school of Ayotzinapa and other crimes committed during the night of September 26-27, 2014 in Iguala, Guerrero.

I acknowledge the openness and commitment of the new Government to collaborate with international human rights organizations, including the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, as the investigation of the case moves forward. I also recognize the willingness of the members of the new Ayotzinapa Presidential Commission – especially the head of the Commission, Undersecretary Alejandro Encinas – to finalize this Agreement.

According to international standards, truth, justice, reparations, including guarantees of non-repetition, are obligations that the Mexican State must fulfill. This is an opportunity to implement structural changes in the justice system to make justice happen for victims of grave human rights violations, and to settle a historical debt with victims of violence.

We underscore the importance of implementing the recommendations from international human rights organizations, including those contained in the report of my Office, entitled "Double Injustice". Practices such as torture, ill-treatment and acts of obstruction of justice have no place in a State committed to human rights. And this same standard must prevail in the Ayotzinapa case: full respect for human rights.

According to official numbers, there are more than 40,000 people whose whereabouts remain unknown. This is a call to all authorities to assume the search of the disappeared as an unavoidable priority. The consequences of the disappearance of a loved one extend over time until his or her whereabouts are revealed and justice is served. The suffering of the families of the disappeared is prolonged and amplified over time; disappearances affect the whole society and democracy. No one should be subjected any longer to such agony.

In this new stage, my Office, through its representation in Mexico, will be an ally that will not hesitate to contribute to progress in investigations. We will acknowledge when authorities fulfill the commitments with the families of the victims, and we will also point out any lack of progress in the case

I also express my gratitude to the human rights organizations that have accompanied the families of the disappeared students, particularly: Centro de Derechos Humanos Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez, Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Montaña "Tlachinollan”, Servicios y Asesoría para la Paz (SERAPAZ) and Centro de Análisis e Investigación FUNDAR.

I want to reiterate to the families – some of whom I had the opportunity to meet – that you can count on my full support and that of my office for your cause and claims. I also reiterate my most affectionate recognition of your dignity, courage and integrity.

As I said before, I salute the willingness of the Mexican government to collaborate with my office so the victims and families’ legitimate claims lead to results in the search of the victims, truth, justice and reparations. Only in this way, we will be able to say Never Again, Never Again.


1. The full name of the agreement in Spanish is: Acuerdo entre la Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos y la Oficina del Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos para brindar asesoría y asistencia técnica a la Comisión conformada por el decreto por el que se instruye establecer condiciones materiales, jurídicas y humanas efectivas, para fortalecer los derechos humanos de los familiares de las víctimas del caso Ayotzinapa a la verdad y al acceso a justicia