Mexican Government Must Be Held Accountable for Thwarting Justice for the 43 Missing Mexican Students

Leading Human Rights Organization Calls on the United States to Urge Compliance by Mexico with Recommendations of Independent Group of Experts

New York, NY – On Sunday, April 24, an international group of experts appointed to review the investigation of the forced disappearance of 43 college students from Iguala, Mexico, in September 2014 concluded that the Mexican government obstructed the pursuit of justice in this case. In keeping with its approach to the case, the Mexican government did not send a representative to the presentation of the findings of the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI) and instead attempted to refute its report.

Crucially, the experts’ report questions the role of units of Mexico’s federal police and army stationed where the students were attacked. The report also found evidence that Mexican authorities used torture to elicit statements from individuals who may not have been involved in the forced disappearance of the 43 students.

The GIEI was created in November 2014, when significant public pressure to seek justice for the missing students forced the Mexican government to enter into an agreement with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).  Appointed by IACHR, the group’s five members were tasked with overseeing an independent investigation into the disappearances. Their work culminated in Sunday’s report.

One of the leading Mexican organizations seeking justice for the students and their families is Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Montaña Tlachinollan—a human rights group supported by American Jewish World Service (AJWS). Angela Martínez, a Senior Program Officer at AJWS, was with the families of the missing students on Sunday when the report was released by GIEI. In the below statement, Ms. Martínez articulates AJWS’s calls for both the Mexican and U.S. governments to ensure justice for the 43 missing students, their families and Mexican society.

Statement of Angela Martínez for American Jewish World Service

“On Sunday, I sat with grieving mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers of the 43 missing Mexican students as members of an esteemed international group of experts confirmed their worst fears—that their own government has stood in the way of achieving justice for their loved ones,” said Angela Martínez, Senior Program Officer at American Jewish World Service (AJWS)—the leading international Jewish human rights organization.

“AJWS condemns the Mexican government’s ongoing obstruction of justice, its ongoing attempts to distort the facts presented by the group of experts, and its shameful refusal to send a representative to listen to the experts’ findings,” added Martínez.

“AJWS stands in solidarity with the families of the missing students and with the human rights groups fighting to achieve justice in this and other cases of abuse by Mexican authorities. We are working closely with Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Montaña Tlachinollan, a leading human rights organization supported by AJWS that has been seeking justice for the students since they disappeared,” affirmed Martínez.

“We are calling on the U.S. and other members of the international community to pressure the Mexican government to comply with its own laws, international law and the recommendations of the GIEI. At the same time, we join our allies in Mexico in demanding that the Mexican government take full responsibility for the lack of justice in this case, and for addressing the broader lack of justice and accountability afflicting Mexican society.”

Martínez affirmed that “AJWS supports the initiative of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to establish a special follow-up mechanism to the case, until its recommendations are met. This mechanism should include, among other responses, regular meetings between IACHR and Mexican officials, as well as the in-person meetings requested by the relatives of the 43 forced disappeared students.”

Martínez outlined five specific demands supported by Mexican and U.S. human rights organizations and the families of the missing students, demanding that:

  • President Peña Nieto immediately comply with the aggrieved families’ request for an in-person meeting with him.
  • The Mexican government guarantee that the recommendations included in the experts’ report are fully implemented, including a follow-up mechanism designed by the IACHR.
  • The Mexican government provide concrete information on the missing students, including pursuing leads uncovered by the GIEI, and cease promoting the so-called “trash dump theory,” which has been discredited by scientific evidence. This theory asserts that, at the order of the mayor of Iguala, local police detained the students before turning them over to drug traffickers, who murdered them and burned their bodies in a nearby trash dump.
  • The international community continues to monitor the situation and ensure that immediate steps are taken to implement the experts’ recommendations—including the release of all relevant information—and to ensure that reparations are provided to families.
  • The U.S. government hold Mexico accountable by implementing congressional conditions on aid dollars that enable cuts in security and military assistance if there is not sufficient progress on human rights and in ensuring justice.


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