WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
23 Apr 2016 | Commentary

4 Ways the Mexican Government Obstructed Justice and Impeded the Investigation into the 43 Disappeared Students

1. Mexican authorities repeatedly denied the Group of Experts’ access to the soldiers who were watching, photographing, and taking notes of the attacks on the students.

All security forces in Mexico share information through a multi-agency communication system known as the C-4. Local police were communicating on the C-4 the night of the students’ disappearance. The military in Iguala was listening to the C-4 and was aware of the students’ movements that evening. According to testimonies, during the evening a group of soldiers entered the police station and searched the cells where some of the students were said to have been taken. A military intelligence agent was also present at the scene of one of the attacks on the students and witnessed their detention by municipal police; he reported his observations back to his superiors over the C-4 system and took photos on a cellular phone. This evidence has yet to be provided to the Experts or civilian authorities. The military has also not granted access to C-4 communications from two specific periods during the night of the attacks.

2. Many of the suspects that the Mexican government arrested in connection with the case have claimed they were tortured.

Medical reports by Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office show that 70 percent of the detainees in the case had injuries indicative of torture or mistreatment. Given that the majority of the government’s evidence to support its “historic truth”—that the students were incinerated at the trash dump—is based on testimonies, the confirmation of torture would further undermine the credibility of the government’s original investigation and raise concerns about coerced confessions.

3. Misleading evidence was leaked to the media.

Parts of detainees’ testimonies that support the Mexican government’s “historic truth” about the trash dump were leaked to the media, but the information contained in these testimonies was not corroborated. In some cases the leaked information doesn’t correspond to what was actually said in the testimonies. The Group of Experts has requested that the Mexican Attorney General’s Office investigate the source of the leaked information.

4. The Attorney General’s Office excluded information from the investigation.

Evidence that could have been important in the students’ case was kept in separate investigations that the Experts did not have access to. This includes remains found in an area where the students’ parents had requested that authorities search. Likewise, the testimonies and other information given by key individuals whose detention was requested by the Experts have been excluded from the Ayotzinapa investigation.