Members of Congress React to Report on Investigation Into Missing Mexican Students

April 28, 2016
Press Release

Today, a group of Members of Congress actively involved in issues related to Mexico and Central America commended the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights-appointed Group of Experts on the release of their final report on the September 26, 2014 disappearance of 43 students in Iguala, Mexico. That report was the product of a year-long review of the official investigation. It sharply contradicts the official version of events, and it reveals efforts by Mexican authorities to obstruct justice and prevent investigators from reaching the truth.

"This was a serious and careful investigation by highly-qualified and renowned human rights and criminal justice practitioners," said Rep. Norma J. Torres (D-CA). "The tragic disappearance of the 43 students was a moment where the Mexican government needed to step up. This was a very high-profile case, and Mexican authorities had all the help they needed to find the truth. However, the Group of Experts' final report indicates that the government did exactly the opposite and raises serious questions as to the Mexican government's commitment to justice and rule of law."

"The circumstances surrounding the heartbreaking disappearance of these students remains unclear," stated Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO). "Though I am pleased that an independent investigation took place, the report findings make one thing certain: there can be no hope for justice in this case without the full cooperation and honest endorsement of the Mexican authorities."

"I helped lead an effort with more than eighty of our Congressional colleagues to publicly share our concerns about the scope of the problem," Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) said.  "I have raised the issue with the Group of Experts and directly with the Mexican government: this investigation is an opportunity for the Government of Mexico to address serious concerns about the state of human rights in Mexico. The investigation has highlighted longstanding problems that threaten the Government of Mexico's commitment to uphold basic human rights and democratic values. I hope that the Group of Experts' report can be the starting point for the Government of Mexico to tackle these tough problems, engage in productive dialogue, and protect its citizens."

The Group of Experts, which included Claudia Paz y Paz, the former attorney general of Guatemala who was honored by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her courageous efforts to fight corruption in Guatemala, was in Mexico at the invitation of the Mexican government to provide technical assistance on the case. Nevertheless, Mexican authorities sought to limit the Group of Experts' access to key documents and sources, and they have not incorporated the key findings of the Experts' review. Still, the work of this group has become a touchstone across the region. In Honduras, the family of slain human rights activist Berta Cáceres has asked for the Government of Honduras to let Inter-American Commission on Human Rights appoint a similar group to investigate her murder. That request is still pending.

Rep. Norma J. Torres represents California's 35th district. She is the founder and co-chair of the Central America Caucus and a member of the U.S.-Mexico Inter-Parliamentary Group.  Rep. Jared Polis represents Colorado's 2nd district. He is the co-chair of U.S.-Mexico Friendship Caucus and a member of the U.S.-Mexico Inter-Parliamentary Group. Rep. Lowenthal represents California's 47th district. He is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee's Western Hemisphere subcommittee and the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission.