* Government representatives refuse to commit to time bound measures for investigation and attention to victims
* Families denounce that federal government seeks to close case due to upcoming elections
Bogotá, Colombia, March 2, 2018. During this year’s first public hearing on the Special Follow-Up Mechanism (MES) established by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) for the Ayotzinapa case, the Commissioners exhorted the Mexican government to accept the families’ proposed calendar of priority actions needed to advance in the criminal investigation and in attention to victims. The Commission considered the proposals were appropriate and viable.
Representatives of the families began the hearing by asking for a moment of silence to honor Minerva Bello, who passed away from cancer aggravated by the suffering of not knowing the whereabouts of her son Everardo. The families then expressed their concern at signs that the federal government seeks to close the Ayotzinapa investigation for electoral reasons. They likewise expressed their alarm at the government’s intention to suspend the hearing scheduled for the IACHR’s May sessions and at the government delegation’s refusal to accept any concrete commitments in the private meeting that preceded the public hearing. These factors highlight the need for continuing international supervision of the case.
The Commissioners recalled that the objective of the precautionary measures granted in this case is to find the 43 disappeared students and to guarantee truth and justice to all the victims, and questioned the government about what obstacles were preventing access to truth and justice more than three years after the events.
Although the government claimed that there were advances in the investigation, that it will present conclusions this year, and that it is committed to solving the case, it also rejected the families’ proposals, saying that the families’ participation (to which they have a right under Mexican law) posed security problems and that their proposals would cause delays.
The families’ representatives responded by pointing out that they had never requested any actions outside the applicable laws, citing some of the relevant legislation (including the Federal Law against Organized Crime). In particular, they recalled that visits to detained individuals had been allowed previously in the investigation, and was not a new or unreasonable request.
The families’ lawyers informed the IACHR that the government had not fulfilled its commitments under the prior calendar of investigative actions, including charging state and federal agents and members of other municipalities’ police departments. This lack of advances in both the investigation and the search for the disappeared students more than 3 years after the events undermines the government’s surprising argument that accepting the priority actions proposed by the families would cause delay.
The families’ lawyers also answered the Commission’s questions about the investigation, emphasizing the lack of new arrests over the last year and the lack of new charges since 2014. They recalled that no one has yet been charged with the crime of enforced disappearance.
The government stated that it would “take into account” the proposal for attention to victims, prompting the victims’ representatives to reply that the government’s actions in this area have thus far been isolated, uncoordinated, and even counterproductive, showing the need to adopt the basic rules contained in the proposed document.
The mothers and fathers who participated in the hearing denounced that the federal government seeks to administer the case for political reasons, and regretted that, having come all the way to Bogotá, they have simply confirmed the government’s lack of commitment to truth and justice in the case, as well as to the Follow-Up Mechanism.