- Nine years after the events, the setbacks in the investigation must not lead to another “historic truth”
- The government must act with transparency and accountability, as must the army
Despite having made some progress in the investigation into the disappearance of the 43 Ayotzinapa students, in recent months the Mexican authorities have acted in a way that could affect access to truth, justice and reparation for the victims and their families, Amnesty International said today.
“Nine years on from the enforced disappearance of the Ayotzinapa students, we cannot allow setbacks in the investigation to lead us to another ‘historic truth’ instead of learning the truth and the whereabouts of the students,” said Edith Olivares, executive director of Amnesty International Mexico.
“By criminalizing former prosecutor Omar Gómez Trejo and attacking organizations vital to the defense of human rights in Mexico, and ignoring the possible role of the army in the disappearances, President López Obrador has directly contributed to the growing distrust of the students’ families and society in general.”
In recent months, Amnesty International has noted with concern a number of developments that represent major obstacles to the official investigation and indicate that it could reach a dead end.
Recently, the Ministry of National Defense (SEDENA)’s refusal to hand over key information on the case requested by the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI), including records of intercepted conversations among the criminal group “Guerreros Unidos” related to the disappearance of the 43 students on 26 September 2014, was made public.
“Nine years on from the enforced disappearance of the Ayotzinapa students, we cannot allow setbacks in the investigation to lead us to another ‘historic truth’ instead of learning the truth and the whereabouts of the students.Edith Olivares, executive director of Amnesty International Mexico
“The refusal of the Ministry of Defense to hand over documents that are fundamental to solving the Ayotzinapa case should shock us in a country that is becoming ever more militarized. Ayotzinapa is a clear example that militarization is not the solution to public security problems. We demand transparency, accountability and compliance with human rights by the entire government, including the army,” said Edith Olivares.
Also of concern are the resignation last year of the former head of the Special Investigation and Litigation Unit for the Ayotzinapa Case (UEILCA), Omar Gómez Trejo, after denouncing undue interference by the Attorney General’s Office (FGR) in the investigation of the case; and the departure of the GIEI on 31 July 2023 due to the lack of cooperation from Mexican authorities making it impossible to continue working.
Furthermore, instead of fully collaborating with the search for the truth that Mexican society so badly needs, President Andres Manuel López Obrador has stressed his support for the army despite the uproar over its failure to hand over information vital to solving the case. At the same time, the president has criticized the civil society organizations representing the victims, such as the Agustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Center (Centro Prodh), which was the target of surveillance via the use of Pegasus spyware in April 2023.
In his daily morning press conferences, the president has also stated that an investigation is underway against Omar Gómez Trejo for alleged omissions in the investigation, such as having been part of a “rebellion” within the Attorney General’s Office.
Amnesty International calls on the authorities to comply with the demands of the students’ families and guarantee their access to truth, justice and reparation. The organization demands that SEDENA share all the evidence relevant to the investigation, that the UEILCA and the Ayotzinapa Truth Commission be able to continue their work against impunity without undue interference, and that the authorities cease the stigmatization and defamation of civil society organizations representing the victims, as well as the criminalization of former prosecutor Omar Gómez Trejo.