Mexico: Damning UN report highlights cover-up in case of 43 disappeared students

A damning new United Nations (UN) report on the Mexican government’s investigation into the enforced disappearance of 43 students in 2014, which reveals the arbitrary detention and torture of suspects and the tampering and concealment of evidence, highlights the urgent need to reform the way criminal investigations are conducted in Mexico, said Amnesty International today.

“The UN’s findings confirm what activists and human rights organizations have exposed and denounced for years: the Mexican authorities’ widespread use of torture and the manipulation of evidence to cover up horrific human rights violations and ensure impunity for the perpetrators,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Amnesty International’s Americas director.

“The outrageously flawed investigation into one of the most appalling crimes in Mexico’s recent history exemplifies the authorities’ abuse of the justice system and their refusal to tackle human rights violations.”

The UN’s findings confirm what activists and human rights organizations have exposed and denounced for years: the Mexican authorities’ widespread use of torture and the manipulation of evidence to cover up horrific human rights violations and ensure impunity for the perpetrators
Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International

On 26 September 2014, police attacked students from the Ayotzinapa teacher training college in the nearby town of Iguala in the southern state of Guerrero. Forty-three of the students were forcibly disappeared, while three other students and three bystanders were killed. The 43 students have not been seen since.

International experts have repeatedly debunked the theory put forward by Mexico’s Federal Attorney General’s office (PGR) that municipal police handed the students over to members of a local drug gang, who murdered them, burned their bodies at a rubbish dump in nearby Cocula and threw their ashes into the San Juan river.

The report released on Thursday by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) shows that the PGR investigation involved multiple human rights violations. These included 34 cases of arbitrary detention and torture, and the possible extrajudicial of one suspect, Emmanuel Alejandro Blas Patiño, who was allegedly tortured to death by marines on 27 October 2014.

The OHCHR also revealed how the Mexican authorities violated the victims’ rights to truth and justice, documenting irregularities in the investigation at the San Juan river and the obstruction of an internal investigation into illegal detentions by PGR agents.

Amnesty International urges Mexico to implement the 15 recommendations in the OHCHR report in a timely and effective manner, particularly those related to establishing a genuinely independent and impartial system for criminal investigation, and eradicating human rights violations by government investigators.

“The Mexican government must immediately launch an independent and comprehensive inquiry based on the findings of this report. All public servants suspected of involvement in acts of torture or other human rights violations should be suspended pending the results of the investigation.”

The Mexican government must immediately launch an independent and comprehensive inquiry based on the findings of this report. All public servants suspected of involvement in acts of torture or other human rights violations should be suspended pending the results of the investigation
Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International