Mexico must fully support independent Ayotzinapa investigation
The case of Ayotzinapa—in which three students were killed and 43 students were forcibly disappeared in the town of Iguala, in Mexico’s southern state of Guerrero in September 2014—is an important test of Mexico’s commitment to justice.
As Nobel peace laureates, we are calling on Mexican authorities to sustain their commitment to an impartial and independent investigation of the disappeared students that is being carried out by the Mexico’s Attorney General’s office and the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts designated by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
The group, comprised of five distinguished human rights professionals with vast experience in cases involving disappearances: Claudia Paz y Paz, Carlos Martín Beristain, Angela Buitrago, Francisco Cox Vial, and Alejandro Valencia Villa. The group was created in November 2014 through an agreement between the Commission, the Mexican State and representatives of the disappeared students in Ayotzinapa.
We would like to publicly express our appreciation that two of the experts are internationally-respected women legal professionals with outstanding track records in taking on controversial and ground-breaking cases. As the former attorney general of Guatemala, Claudia Paz y Paz oversaw the investigation of Guatemala’s former dictator, General Jose Efrain Rios Montt, for crimes against humanity committed during Guatemala’s 36-year civil war. Angela Buitrago is a human rights lawyer from Colombia. Both women have taken on challenging cases at great risk to their own safety.
This past fall, the Mexican government agreed to extend the group’s mandate to April, 2016 – and to make changes to the way the Attorney General’s office is carrying out the investigation, incorporating some changes recommended by the expert group. The expert group presented its preliminary findings in September at a press conference attended by the families of the disappeared students.
We strongly urge Mexican authorities to firmly dismiss any attempts to discredit the integrity or contributions of any of the expert group members, as it is important that the public’s confidence in the process not be diminished. It is of paramount importance that the safety of all the expert group members is guaranteed in order for them to carry out their work.