- Establishing the whereabouts of the students who have yet to be found is essential to ensure comprehensive reparation for the harm done and guarantee that such cases will not be repeated.
- The report of the Truth Commission, which concludes that the persecution and enforced disappearance of the young students was a state crime, should open the way for further clarification of the facts.
The recent report of the Commission for Truth and Access to Justice, created by the government of President López Obrador three years ago, concludes that the disappearance of 43 Ayotzinapa teacher training students was a “state crime”. The recent arrest warrants issued at the request of the Attorney General’s Office against the former Public Prosecutor, military commanders and municipal and state police, among others, are significant advances in the search for truth and justice for this appalling crime, said Amnesty International.
Almost eight years after the enforced disappearance of 43 students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teacher Training School, the killings of three more people and the torture and persecution of students, the Mexican authorities have made progress in the investigations into the cover-up policy of Enrique Peña Nieto’s government which established “historical truth”, an investigation plagued by irregularities, human rights violations and other crimes, reflecting an absolute determination to hide the facts instead of guaranteeing truth, justice and reparation for the victims and their families.
“After almost eight years of struggling for truth and justice in the case of the Ayotzinapa students, the progress shown confirms, once again, that the authorities under the government of Enrique Peña Nieto pursued a deliberate policy of concealment and obstruction of justice. The Truth Commission’s devastating report, which concludes that the persecution and enforced disappearance of the young students was a state crime, must open the way for continued clarification of the facts, establishing the whereabouts of the young students and guaranteeing non-repetition. with comprehensive policies aimed at addressing the profound crisis of disappearances in Mexico,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.
The government of President López Obrador created a special commission to pursue the case, as well as a special unit in the Attorney General’s Office. In addition, Mexico accepted the competence of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances to examine cases of disappearance in Mexico. On 19 August, at the request of the Attorney General’s Office, arrest warrants were issued against the former Public Prosecutor, Jesus Murillo Karam, who was in charge of the initial investigations, for the crimes of enforced disappearance, torture and contrary to the administration of justice, in the ‘Ayotzinapa’ case, and against 20 military commanders and military personnel from the 27th and 41st battalions in the city of Iguala, as well as five administrative and judicial officials from the state of Guerrero; 26 police officials from Huitzuco; six from Iguala and one from Cocula; plus 11 state police officials from Guerrero and 14 members of the criminal group Guerreros Unidos.
After almost eight years of struggling for truth and justice in the case of the Ayotzinapa students, the progress shown confirms, once again, that the authorities under the government of Enrique Peña Nieto pursued a deliberate policy of concealment and obstruction of justiceErika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International
“The recent advances are the result of the tireless struggle of the mothers, fathers and families of the young Ayotzinapa students and the exceptional and painstaking work of the human rights organizations that have supported them. The government of President López Obrador has shown a willingness to clarify the facts about the students’ enforced disappearance, as well as to strengthen the state bodies responsible for investigating this appalling crime, and this has made a positive contribution to addressing the obligations owed, after almost eight years. It is also time to adopt comprehensive policies to address the grave crisis of disappearances, which has already exceeded 100,000 people, in a country beset by injustice and impunity,” said Edith Olivares Ferreto, Executive Director of Amnesty International Mexico.
The 43 Ayotzinapa Rural Teacher Training College students were forcibly disappeared on the night of 26 September 2014 after they had been arrested by municipal police as they were preparing to take part in a demonstration in Mexico City to commemorate a massacre of students on 2 October 1968.
Despite strong pressure, internationally, nationally and from the families of the disappeared students, their whereabouts are still unknown and the facts of these grave human rights violations remain under investigation.
The recent advances are the result of the tireless struggle of the mothers, fathers and families of the young Ayotzinapa students and the exceptional and painstaking work of the human rights organizations that have supported themEdith Olivares Ferreto, executive director of Amnesty International Mexico
Various reports from national and international organizations, as well as from the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI), appointed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, always questioned the official version of events at the time and presented exhaustive criticisms of the investigations carried out. The then government insisted on a single line of investigation (that the students had been arrested by the municipal police and handed over to a criminal gang and their bodies burned at a local landfill site). The theory that the students had been cremated was flatly rejected by the GIEI on the grounds that it was impossible in the circumstances described by the Mexican authorities and was not supported by the evidence.
Amnesty International also denounced for years the shortcomings in the investigation and the political decision to hide the truth, and thereby hinder efforts to obtain justice in the case of the enforced disappearance of the students. In several reports, Amnesty International confirmed that the investigations were inadequate and did not seek at even a minimal clarification of command responsibility. Crime scenes were not protected or properly documented with photographs or video recordings. Ballistic evidence was collected, but it was not examined for traces of blood or fingerprints, nor was critical evidentiary material processed correctly. The continuing allegations of the torture and ill-treatment of detainees in connection with the disappearances, violations of due process, evidence tampering and the protection of officers suspected of involvement, were among the other human rights violations documented during the first years of the investigations.