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The Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Center

Mexico called to account before the IACHR in Pasta de Conchos mine explosion case

  • Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) admits case filed by families of miners killed in coal mine operated by Grupo México
  • 12 years after the disaster, 63 of the miners’ mortal remains have yet to be recovered, while the families lack access to justice

Mexico City, April 19, 2018. In its recently held 167th session in Bogotá, Colombia, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) approved Admissibility Report 12/18, declaring admissible the case of the Pasta de Conchos mine, where an explosion took the life of 65 coal miners in Coahuila state in February 2006. This decision means that the IACHR will analyze the merits of the case, that is, the Mexican government’s role in the violation of human rights including life, personal integrity, access to justice, and economic, social, and cultural rights, protected in articles 4, 5, 8, 25, and 26 of the American Convention on Human Rights.

More than twelve years after the tragedy, the families of the Pasta de Conchos victims continue to fight for the recovery of the miners’ bodies, 63 of which are still buried in the mine due to the government having blocked actions aimed at recovering their remains to allow for a decent burial. The case remains in impunity, with no state agent subject to trial despite the fact that authorities failed to give effect to the safety violations detected in inspections of the mine prior to the explosion, as documented by the National Human Rights Commission in Recommendation 26/2006.

The families presented the case to the IACHR in February 2010, stating that Mexico was internationally responsible for the lack of effectiveness of the inspections and for delays and lack of due diligence in the internal investigations. The government argued that the case was inadmissible because the families had had access to a variety of domestic remedies to seek justice. However, after studying the evidence and arguments of both parties, the IACHR decided in favor of the families, noting, among other observations: “twelve years after the facts, there has been no determination of the causes of the explosion or the alleged responsibility of state agents, nor have the miners’ mortal remains been recovered.”[1] While the government had argued that the families should have continued seeking justice through domestic channels, the IACHR reasoned, “since this crime is automatically subject to investigation by the government, it is the Mexican state, not the families, that has the obligation to move the process forward.”[2]

The admission of the case by the IACHR represents an historic achievement for the families in their search for truth, justice, and reparations, beginning with the recovery of their loved ones’ remains. The IACHR also pointed out that the families’ petition describes “a context characterized by the implementation in Mexico of structural adjustment policies and deregulation of labor rights,”[3] in which mining companies’ enormous profits contrast sharply with the precarious living conditions of their workers. By admitting the case as one of possible economic, social, and cultural rights violations, the IACHR opens the door to eventually recommending that Mexico take action to improve conditions for miners in general, as well as advancing access to truth and justice for the victims of this paradigmatic case.


Narce Santibañez Alejandre

 Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Center

Office 55466559

04455 8531 2218


[1] Unofficial translation.

[2] Unofficial translation.

[3] Unofficial translation.

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