Mexico City/Washington, D.C.—The Special Follow-Up Mechanism related to the precautionary measure granted for the students from the “Raúl Isidro Burgos” rural school in Ayotzinapa (PM 409/14), and to the recommendations made by the Inter-Disciplinary Group of Independent Experts, carried out its fourth official visit to Mexico on November 27-28, 2017. The purpose of the visit was to continue monitoring compliance with the precautionary measure and with the Inter-Disciplinary Group’s recommendations related to progress in the investigation, the search for the missing students, comprehensive attention to victims and their family members, and structural measures of non-repetition, as well as to determine the work of the Follow-Up Mechanism as it wraps up the work plan it presented in November 2016. The delegation included the IACHR Rapporteur for Mexico and coordinator of the Follow-Up Mechanism, Commissioner Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño; IACHR Executive Secretary Paulo Abrão; and technical staff of the IACHR Executive Secretariat.
Three years and two months after the events in question, the situation and whereabouts of the 43 missing students remains unknown. Through the Follow-Up Mechanism, the IACHR has examined the information it has received from the start of this effort, and it expresses its concern about the slow pace in coming to conclusions, both in the search activities and in the effective clarification of the various lines of investigation indicated by the Inter-Disciplinary Group. The Commission notes that so far not a single person has been prosecuted in this case for the crime of forced disappearance and that some aspects of the investigation are still fragmented.
During this fourth official visit, the Mexican State reported on the progress made. In terms of the search, the Commission views as a positive step the implementation of LIDAR technology in the search for the students, as well as the beginning of field searches of the areas that were marked using this technology. The Commission recognizes the efforts made to create a database of graves in the state of Guerrero, the consolidation of which is still pending.
In terms of the investigation, the IACHR welcomes the fact that the case file includes clear indications that there were several routes of disappearance and at least two different groups of students, after they were detained, which means that certain lines of investigation must be pursued more extensively. The IACHR also recognizes the investigative work done around telephone records and ballistics, which made it possible to conclude that a new police force had participated in the events. The IACHR urges the State to locate several actors whose detention is essential to clarify the facts. In addition, the Commission notes the importance of taking into custody police officers from different institutions who were involved in what happened.
According to the information received, one fact that needs to be explained is how nine of the students’ telephones that were active after the events ended up in the hands of those who ultimately had them. As the IACHR indicated previously, these facts, combined with other evidence, corroborate the need to discard the initial version of events that indicated that all the telephones had been burned in the Cocula waste dump. In addition, the identities of key players at the time of the events have yet to be fully established.
With regard to addressing victims’ needs, the Commission welcomes the presentation of the Diagnostic Assessment of Psychosocial and Health Impacts, which lays out a roadmap for attending to the victims, and in the case of those who suffered injuries or who died, for providing eventual reparations. The Commission calls on the State to take concrete steps to ensure compliance with what has been determined in the diagnostic assessment, particularly as it relates to the wounded survivors, the family members of the young people who were executed, and the family members of those who are missing, always in coordination and by agreement with the victims, family members, and representatives.
During the visit, the members of the Follow-Up Mechanism met with representatives of the State and with family members of the missing students and their representatives to discuss plans for moving forward following completion of the work plan presented in November 2016. In this regard, the Mexican State expressed its commitment to support the Inter-American Commission’s monitoring of the precautionary measures through the end of 2018, by means of a voluntary financial contribution that will be made in its entirety in December 2017. In addition, during the first IACHR session in 2018 the parties will analyze and, where applicable, reach agreement on scheduling new visits and working meetings of the Special Follow-Up Mechanism.
The State made an additional commitment to address pending issues identified by the IACHR and to receive the delegation of the Follow-Up Mechanism on another official visit in February 2018, to evaluate results in the areas of investigation, search, and attention to victims. In addition, the Attorney General’s Office pledged to continue working with and holding periodic follow-up meetings with the family members and their representatives.
During this visit, the delegation met with high-level officials in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Attorney General’s Office, and the Interior Ministry. The delegation also met with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote the respect for and defense of human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.