HomeNewsBriefIACHR Renews Role in Mexico Case of Disappeared Students

IACHR Renews Role in Mexico Case of Disappeared Students


Latin America's top regional human rights body has approved further measures to track the Mexican government's progress in its ongoing investigation of an emblematic mass disappearance case, but the latest move is unlikely to produce the answers the victims' families have long hoped for.

In a document (pdf) published on July 29, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) announced that it will name at least two special advisors to monitor the investigation into the September 2014 disappearance of 43 students in the town of Iguala in Guerrero state.

The Mexican government has claimed that corrupt local police kidnapped the students and handed them off to a drug gang, who killed the young men and burned their bodies. However, human rights groups at home and abroad and a panel of independent, international IACHR experts who conducted their own investigation of the case have cast doubt upon the validity of the government's investigation and some of its central assertions about what happened.

The IACHR's special advisors will be charged with ensuring that the Mexican government is complying with its obligations under international agreements to carry out a complete and thorough investigation of the mass disappearance. The IACHR statement says they will have "full access to the necessary information in the files and other sources of information corresponding to the case" and that they will cooperate with the government in order to complete their work.

A rapporteur for the commission will also make at least three visits to Mexico to monitor progress on the case, and may issue public statements regarding his or her findings.

The IACHR also noted that thus far, "the actions adopted by the state authorities still have not produced concrete results or positive advances that would permit the location" of the missing students. The organization called on the Mexican government to "redouble its efforts to implement all necessary measures in order to determine the whereabouts or the fate of the young men."

Family members of the victims of the mass disappearance expressed cautious optimism about the new measures. Felipe de la Cruz, a spokesman for the family members, said he considered the new measures satisfactory, but others said they represented only a small step forward in the continuing search for their sons.

InSight Crime Analysis

The disappearance of the 43 students provoked widespread outcry in Mexico, as the case was seen by many as emblematic of what some experts describe as the country's "security failure." The fact that Mexico's government has not yet determined the students' whereabouts or their ultimate fate -- nearly two years after the incident -- has further undermined the credibility of the country's law enforcement and judicial institutions, which already had a poor reputation both at home and abroad.

SEE ALSO: Mexico News and Profiles

Considering that the independent group of experts commissioned by the IACHR -- an autonomous body of the Organization of American States -- has been the source of some key advances in the public's understanding of the case, further involvement by the organization is likely to contribute to a more thorough and complete understanding of what happened.

The Mexican government likely agreed to the new measures in an attempt to deflect widespread criticism of its handling of the case. However, the independent experts who attempted to support the official investigation before said their efforts were hindered by Mexican officials and that they were subjected to a "smear campaign" channeled through national media.

Sources close to the case consulted by InSight Crime noted that those experts also had access to the government's documentation, so there is little in the new agreement to suggest the IACHR will make major breakthroughs or that they can expect more cooperation from the Mexican government.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.


What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.


Related Content


In our October 26 Facebook Live session, InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley and "Dreamland" author Sam Quinones…


Government information indicates that 12 mayors across Guerrero, Mexico may have criminal ties -- suggesting that a dynamic pushed into…


Mexico mining companies extorted by criminal groups are reportedly paying Michoacan self-defense forces for protection, a development that places the…

About InSight Crime


Guatemala Social Insecurity Investigation Makes Front Page News

10 DEC 2021

InSight Crime’s latest investigation into a case of corruption within Guatemala's social security agency linked to the deaths of patients with kidney disease made waves in…


Venezuela El Dorado Investigation Makes Headlines

3 DEC 2021

InSight Crime's investigation into the trafficking of illegal gold in Venezuela's Amazon region generated impact on both social media and in the press. Besides being republished and mentioned by several…


Gender and Investigative Techniques Focus of Workshops

26 NOV 2021

On November 23-24, InSight Crime conducted a workshop called “How to Cover Organized Crime: Investigation Techniques and A Focus on Gender.” The session convened reporters and investigators from a dozen…


InSight Crime Names Two New Board Members

19 NOV 2021

In recent weeks, InSight Crime added two new members to its board. Joy Olson is the former executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America…


Senate Commission in Paraguay Cites InSight Crime

12 NOV 2021

InSight Crime’s reporting and investigations often reach the desks of diplomats, security officials and politicians. The latest example occurred in late October during a commission of Paraguay's Senate that tackled…