March 9, 2015. During the month of February, Mexico’s General Prosecutor’s Office (PGR) attempted to close the case of the 43 disappeared students of Ayotzinapa by arguing that, based on the testimonies from witnesses and evidence gathered in a landfill site in Cocula Guerrero, the students were incinerated by the criminal group Guerreros Unidos. The Argentine Forensic Team questioned this as they were not present during the collection of evidence in Cocula. The Forensic Team was also concerned about the possible manipulation of evidence in order to fit the PGR’s conclusions. Academics from Mexico’s National University also question the PGR’s argument and indicated that the physical evidence provided by the former contradicts the incineration argument. According to these experts, the burning of bone tissues requires special equipment, which was not available in the landfill site. Continue reading
The Mexican government is hoping that people will be distracted by the Christmas holidays and will forget the disappeared, particularly the search for the #42 #Ayotzinapa students. Do not let the Mexican government do that. Send the following message to twitter @EPN @PresidenciaMX “Search for the disappeared. Bring them back alive.” Here it is a video of the families of the #42 missing students describing how their Christmas is going to be this year.
August 30th is the International Day of the Disappeared. This day raises awareness of the fate of individuals whose whereabouts is unknown to their relatives and/or legal representatives in cases of involuntary disappereances because of armed conflict or authoritarian regimes. In preparation for this day, different human rights organizations and families of the disappeared are carrying out different events tomorrow throughout Mexico. Please support the families by sending a twitter to Mexico’s president asking him to #findthedisappeared@PresidenciaMX
If the twitter messages come from abroad, you will giving the families a lot of support.
Families of the disappeared march from Torreon to Saltillo Coahuila to demand state authorities to follow adequate protocols in search operations (such as preserving evidence, avoid contamination of search locations, etc) (Photos by Itzel)
On February 8th, 2014, the Governor of Coahuila Ruben Moreira and the Assistant Attorney Juan José Yañez informed FUUNDEC and representatives of the UN Human Rights High Commissioner and the National Commission of Human rights about the recent search operations for the disappeared taking place in the northern region of the state of Coahuila. The governor affirmed that heavy machinery was not used in the operation, and journalists were not allowed in the search zone. He also mentioned that appropriate protocols for the collection of evidence were followed.
However, appropriate protocols were not followed as it was revealed by a news report released by the American channel Univision. The video shows how evidence was not preserved, the crime scene was not protected and heavy machinery was used. These practices are not compatible with international search protocols and diminish the possibilities of finding the disappeared and arrest those responsible for their disappearance. To the families of the victims, this search operation is more of a public relations strategy rather than a genuine effort to assist the victims and their families. For that reason, FUUNDEC decided to suspend any dialogue and consultation with state and federal authorities until the Governor of Coahuila and the General Commissioner of the Federal Police Enrique Galindo give FUUNDEC an explanation for the lack of appropriate protocol in the search operations.
FUUNDEC also asks international organizations for their assistance in the collection, classification and preservation of evidence that results from search operations. (In press release from January 31, 2014, FUUNDEC suggested the Government of Coahuila to join the Agreement of Collaboration for the Identification of Human Remains with the Attorney-in-General’s Office. This agreement was already used in the massacres of San Fernando and Cadereyta. The goal of this agreement is the creation of a Commission of Forensic Experts led by Argentina’s group of forensic anthropologists, which includes international and national forensic experts).
FUUNDEC is also organizing a “Truth Caravan” to demand results and the implementation of appropriate search protocols to state authorities. The caravan will depart from Torreon Coahuila on February 14th, 2014 and arrive the same day at the city of Saltillo, capital of the state.
Please contact the Governor of Coahuila on twitter @GobDeCoahuila and the Federal police @SSP_mx to show your support to the families in their protest.
“The impunity during the dirty war in the 1970s in Mexico set the conditions for today’s disappearances. If something had been done before, this would not be happening today.” These were the words of Yanett Bautista, member of the Foundation Nadia Erika Bautista from Colombia. She discussed how the families of the disappeared have driven the process of justice in Colombia. Families are the one searching for their relatives and presenting law initiatives to Congress. Examples of these are the law recognizing enforced disappearances as a crime and the homage law. The latter involves the obligation of the state to create a Genetic Database of Unidentified Bodies and treat human remains according to international standards.
Federica Riccardi from Red Cross International expressed that search protocols need to have an open approach in terms of the kind of evidence that is included into the investigations such as photos, study of circumstances and witnesses’ testimonies. These protocols have to be elaborated with the collaboration of the victims’ families.