A group of experts appointed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has issued a new report on the Mexican government’s own investigation of the disappearance of 43 students in Guerrero state nearly one year ago—and has found that the official conclusions are improbable.
Last week’s presentation of the IACHR findings drew such a huge audience that organizers had to set up a TV screen for the overflow crowd on the patio of the Mexico City Human Rights Commission offices.
Back in January, Mexico’s then-Prosecutor General Jesús Murillo Karam announced the results of his investigation: All the students had been killed by members of a narco-gang called the Guerreros Unidos, who incinerated the bodies in a trash dump at the bottom of a canyon, then shoveled what remained into plastic bags and threw them in a river.
That theory was largely based on confessions from detainees—who have since claimed to have “confessed” under torture. IACHR investigators who visited the dump site concluded that the incineration of that many bodies would have required an inordinate amount of fuel and would have caused a massive forest fire.
Amnesty International said the IACHR findings have grave implications for Mexico’s ongoing human rights crisis.
“The revelation by the group of experts of the inconsistencies in the official theory…highlights the need to urgently redirect investigations,” Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty, said. “Mexico is going through one of the worst human rights crises of the last decades. The catalog of failures in the search and investigation over the disappearance of the 43 students…is a massive stain on the Mexican government’s reputation, which they can only begin to reverse if they find those responsible.”
Surviving kin of the missing students were vindicated by the IACHR report.
“We’ve always said it’s not that we don’t want to accept facts, it’s that we’ve never been given any evidence,” Emiliano Navarete, father of missing student Jose Angel Navarete, told Free Speech Radio News. “We can’t accept something without proof!”
The family members called for the prosecution of Murillo Karam, who is expected to receive an ambassadorship after a recent cabinet reshuffle.