By Emma Buckhout, August 20, 2015
Today LAWGEF along with seven other international and U.S.-based human rights organizations voiced support for the request made by the independent group of experts currently investigating the forced disappearance of 43 Mexican students from Ayotzinapa in September 2014 to extend its mandate to assist the Mexican government in this investigation.
The Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (Grupo Interdisciplinario de Expertos Independientes, GIEI) was designated in November 2014 by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) with the agreement of the Mexican government and the representatives of the families of the disappeared students to explore new lines of investigation in the Ayotzinapa case, analyze the facts of the case, provide attention to the victims and students’ families, and develop policy recommendations around the broader problem of forced disappearance in Mexico. The Group’s six-month mandate was given with the understanding that it “may be extended for the time necessary to achieve its objective, through the IACHR’s consultation with the parties.”
As evidenced in the Group’s August report, critical questions yet remain unanswered in the Ayotzinapa case. In their letter to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, LAWGEF and partners state that the extension of the Group’s mandate “is important not only to complete the outstanding tasks in relation to the case of the disappeared students but also to address the broader issue of enforced disappearances in the country.” They further assert: “The willingness of the Mexican government to facilitate the work of the GIEI and to comply with its recommendations would demonstrate its commitment to truth and justice in this very emblematic case and to advancing the protection and respect for human rights in the country.”
Furthermore, in their letter to IACHR Executive Secretary Emilio Álvarez Icaza in support of extending the Group of Experts’ mandate, the signing organizations affirmed that the handling of this high-profile case should “constitute an example of how to carry out a comprehensive investigation in order to achieve truth and justice for the victims and their families,” as well as the shared hope that “this unique opportunity is not cut short before fully coming to fruition.”
In addition to LAWGEF, the signing organizations include Amnesty International, Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), Due Process of Law Foundation (DPLF), JASS (Just Associates), Peace Brigades International (PBI), Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, and the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA).