WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas

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28 Jun 2018 | News

WOLA Explains Recent Developments in Mexico’s Ayotzinapa Case: A Series of Resources

As Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s term comes to an end, it’s clear that the unresolved case of the 43 forcibly disappeared students from Ayotzinapa, Guerrero has come to symbolize the spiraling human rights crisis that has marred his administration. The federal Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR) has tried to close the case, calling it the “most exhaustive investigation in the history of Mexico,” but the government’s theory of what happened to the students has been disproven by international organizations and the Independent Group of Interdisciplinary Experts (GIEI) named by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to provide technical assistance to the government on the investigation. The GIEI, the IACHR’s Follow-up Mechanism to the Experts’ work, and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) have all expressed concern about obstruction of justice in the federal government’s investigation into the case.

On May 31, a Mexican federal tribunal ruled that the PGR investigation has not been “prompt, effective, impartial, or independent,” highlighting grave irregularities and human rights violations in the investigation, including the use of torture to extract confessions and the failure to investigate Federal Police and military officials that may have participated in the students’ disappearance. The court ruling therefore called for the creation of an Investigative Commission for Truth and Justice to take over the case—a ruling that is legally binding and cannot be overturned. However, the PGR has already alleged that the creation of the Commission is impossible, sending the concerning message that it lacks the political will to find the students and further casting doubt on the Mexican government’s commitment to resolving the case.

With President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador due to take office in December, it will be up to both the outgoing and incoming governments to implement the court’s ruling, establish the Investigative Commission, and continue to collaborate with the IACHR’s Follow-Up Mechanism. To help put these recent developments in the Ayotzinapa case into context, the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), a leading research and advocacy organization, has prepared the following resources:

  • The Investigative Commission for the Ayotzinapa Case: In a new commentary, WOLA Assistant Director for Mexico Ximena Suárez-Enríquez analyzes the May 31 federal court decision and what it means for the future of the Ayotzinapa investigation. Suárez explains how the Investigative Commission for Truth and Justice will function and what it will take to ensure it is implemented effectively.
  • The Special Follow-Up Mechanism for the Ayotzinapa Case: WOLA Director for Mexico Maureen Meyer summarizes the IACHR’s June 2018 performance report on the Follow-Up Mechanism’s first year of work in Mexico. The summary examines how the Mexican government has failed to pursue several important lines of investigation highlighted by the IACHR-appointed Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts and provides recommendations for how the investigation should be continued.
  • Arbitrary Detentions and Torture in the Ayotzinapa Investigation: Meyer and WOLA Program Assistant for Mexico Gina Hinojosa summarize the OHCHR’s March 2018 report, Double Injustice, on the use of arbitrary detentions and torture in the Ayotzinapa investigation and the Mexican government’s failure to properly investigate and sanction these abuses.
  • Ayotzinapa Resource Page: This frequently-updated resource page provides important context, developments, and analysis on the Ayotzinapa case. The webpage includes resources from WOLA, the GIEI, the Follow-Up Mechanism, and more.

This post was updated on July 3, 2018.