Friday, July 24, 2015

Mexican Human Rights Commission criticizes Iguala investigation (July 24, 2015)

The Mexican National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) issued a preliminary report on the official investigation into the disappearance and probable murder of 43 teachers college students last September in the Guerrero city of Iguala, saying it was the result of the blurry line between public officials and criminal gang members.

The report found serious flaws in an investigation into the probable massacre of the 43 students last year, a case which became a symbol of impunity over disappearances and plunged President Enrique Peña Nieto into his deepest crisis

Calling for an end to the "alliance" between organized crime and the public sector, the rights body was harsh on the Federal Attorney General's Office and state and local officials for their handling of the investigation and made 32 recommendations for moving the inquiry forward, reports El Daily Post.

The mass disappearance in the city of Iguala "has proven the depth of barbarity ... the abandonment of the law and the neglect of justice" in Mexico, CNDH president Luis Raul Gonzalez said in a statement.

The attorney general's office concluded in January that a drug gang had mistakenly identified the students, who belonged to a college with a radical left-wing tradition, as a threat and had them killed after clashes in Iguala the night of Sept. 26. Afterwards, their remains were incinerated, ground up and tossed in a river, the government determined.

But tests only identified the remains of one victim in December and families are still waiting for proof over what happened to their loved ones.

"What we're pointing out, as we've said before, is that the attorney general's investigation should not be closed and is not closed," Gonzalez said.

The report shows some chilling gaps in the investigation.

The CNDH report notes that the attorney general's office still had not compiled basic information about the victims, who came from poor backgrounds.

The investigation had not developed profiles of each of the missing students that would include basic details such as blood type, fingerprints and distinguishing characteristics such as scars or tattoos, which the report termed a "basic tool" of any search, reports the Associated Press.

Nor had it properly investigated 11 suspects in the case, the CNDH found, according to Reuters.

According to the CNDH, three suspected participants in the supposed incineration of the victims' bodies have still not been brought in, and 11 other suspects have been identified by nickname only, reports El Daily Post.

The human rights body also suggested investigators make better use of geo-referencing, in part by obtaining the victims' cell phone data.

The CNDH denounced the use of arbitrary detentions and torture to obtain confessions in the Iguala case, and criticized the lack of testimony from people involved.

The commission also complained that prosecutors had only used statements from 36 soldiers, instead of interviewing everyone who had been in the area. Iguala is home to a barracks, and questions have been raised about the army's failure to help.

The report also says the students' families never received proper medical and psychological support and still live amid the same crime and insecurity that led to the disappearances, which the attorney general said involved a drug cartel working with local police, reports the AP.

Reuters notes that the report comes at a tough time for Peña Nieto, in the wake of drug kingpin Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán's escape from a maximum security prison.

Animal Político has the full report posted on its site.

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