- This is how the “historical truth” was fabricated.
A video published by the media that shows a detainee in the Ayotzinapa case being tortured confirms the perpetration of human rights violations during the investigation into the students’ disappearance, as different international human rights bodies that had analyzed the case had already said.
The video confirms the existence of sound evidence of the torture of 34 detainees, including the man that appears in the video, Carlos “N”, which the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Mexico had already mentioned in its report Double Injustice: Report on Human Rights Violations in the Investigation of the Ayotzinapa Case.
In response to the conclusions of the UN and other investigations, the Attorney General’s Office (PGR, by its Spanish acronym) denied the fabrication of the “historical truth” through torture and assured that mistreatment was verified in only two cases. However, four years later, even the perpetrators in these two cases remain unpunished. This inaction has persisted in the transition to the new, independent Attorney General’s Office (FGR, by its Spanish acronym).
Meanwhile, the Recommendation on the Ayotzinapa case issued by the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH, by its Spanish acronym) analyzed 72 complaints of torture and concluded that this crime was only committed in 8 cases. In the specific case of Carlos “N”, the CNDH considered that neither suffocation nor electric shocks had been confirmed, despite the abundant evidence and the detainee’s repeated complaints. The faulty decision of the CNDH in this case is consistent with its deficient approach to the investigation of torture in Mexico, characterized by the classification of evident, in flagrante use of torture as cruel treatment, consequently confirming that its recommendation is biased and limited.
The signatory organizations consider that the video confirms the use of torture in the investigation of the Ayotzinapa case; it proves that the CNDH covered up this crime with its unreliable recommendation; it vindicates the actions taken by the international bodies, such as the OHCHR, that had been criticized by the Mexican government; it dovetails with the innovative judgment in the case of the First Collegiate Court in the state of Tamaulipas, and it opens a new window of opportunity to reveal the truth.
The visual, public evidence that confirms the use of torture in this case, which has been intensely scrutinized across the world, also confirms that the new Attorney General’s Office must support and contribute to the efforts of the Presidential Commission to investigate the case. If the FGR does not make progress in the investigation into the people who committed irregularities and human rights violations, if it does not make new accusations, if it keeps relying more on the recommendation of the CNDH than on the work of specialized organizations, and if the team in charge of investigating the case does not receive any support, the government will miss the opportunity to solve the case.
In this respect, the video is a reminder that the internal investigation of the officials who obstructed justice is still pending. Today, many of these officials have not been held accountable, and they even keep their public offices. Such is the case of one of the torturers who appears in the video. After the publication of the video, he resigned from his position as a state government official, and although this is an important step, he still has to be investigated and punished.
In conclusion, the Ayotzinapa case continues to be a litmus test of the will and capacity of the Mexican government to deal with human rights violations and to end institutionalized impunity. It also represents an opportunity to prove that torture will actually start to be eradicated from the Mexican legal system. In the past, other videos showing the use of torture in Mexico —with methods similar to those used in this new video— led to public apologies from some of the institutions involved, but not to the recognition that torture is a generalized crime, let alone to the punishment of the perpetrators or those who encourage or tolerate this crime as part of the chain of command. For this reality to change, the punishment of perpetrators is essential.
Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Center
Mobile number 04455 8531 2218