Washington, D.C.—The report issued on September 6 by the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI) concludes that the Mexican government’s version of the fate of the 43 forcibly disappeared students from Ayotzinapa is wrong and not substantiated by scientific evidence. The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) is deeply troubled by the government’s grave mishandling of the case and supports the experts’ call for the government to pursue further lines of investigation to clarify what happened to the students and provide truth and justice to their families.
Mexico’s Attorney General, Arely Gomez, who replaced former Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam shortly after he presented the Mexican government’s grossly flawed version of the students’ disappearance, affirmed that her office will analyze all aspects of the report to determine whether to incorporate them into the investigation but refrained from making any statements about the government’s grave errors in the case. “Rather than doing new tests to prove a theory that has already been discarded, the Mexican government should work to restructure the investigation and pursue all of the proposed lines of investigation,” affirmed Maureen Meyer, WOLA Senior Associate for Mexico. “Given the multiple failures of the government’s investigators, a new team should be created within the Attorney General’s Office to be in charge of this next stage of the investigation,” she stated.
The group of five renowned experts on criminal prosecutions and human rights was formed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) based on an agreement with the students’ families, their representatives, and the Mexican government. They began their work on March 2, 2015 and have been providing vital technical assistance for the case. Their report reflects six months of extensive work to search for the students, investigate those responsible, provide attention to the surviving victims of the attacks and victims’ families, and to develop proposals regarding enforced disappearances in Mexico.
The report negates the Mexican government’s narrative that after the students had been forcibly disappeared by municipal police they were handed over to a criminal group and subsequently incinerated in a trash dump. “The experts’ report makes clear that the government attempted to sell to the families, Mexican society, and the international community a version of the events that, far from being the truth, is not backed up by scientific evidence,” affirmed Meyer. “The government preferred expediency over veracity and went to great lengths, including likely torture, to back up their version of the events,” she said.
The report also shows that several areas of investigation remain unexplored. In particular, the experts suggest that the extreme violence that was used against the students may have been related to the fact that buses were being used by organized criminal groups in Iguala to transport heroin. Lastly, the report also makes clear that state and federal security forces knew that the students were being pursued and attacked by the municipal police yet they did nothing to come to the students’ aid.
“The victims’ families deserve to know the truth about what happened to the students, the when, the where and the why. The experts’ report is a vital basis for the investigation to move forward,” Meyer asserted.
WOLA is pleased that the Mexican government has accepted the requested extension of the GIEI’s mandate. We hope that their work, in collaboration with the Attorney General’s Office, will bring the families, the other students, Mexican society, and the international community a step closer to knowing the truth about this grave event and to bringing those responsible to justice.
WOLA Director of Communications