MEXICO CITY (AP) — The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said Thursday that Mexico’s investigation of the 2014 disappearance of 43 college students has been based on statements obtained through torture.
In a report, the office said 34 of the 129 people arrested in connection with the students’ disappearance in the southern state of Guerrero suffered torture. It says federal police, investigators and marines inflicted pain to obtain statements after the Attorney General’s Office took the case.
“You cannot resolve a serious human rights violation with other violations,” said Jan Jarab, the office’s representative in Mexico.
The U.N. is calling on Mexican authorities to throw out the material, which forms the foundation of the government’s explanation of what occurred.
Mexico’s government said in a statement that it was concerned the U.N. would publish conclusions about matters still under investigation or in the courts. It said all of the purported rights violations referred to in the report are under investigation.
Federal prosecutors have said the students were attacked by local police in Iguala on Sept. 26, 2014, then turned over to drug gang members, who killed the youths and burned the bodies at a garbage dump. A team of international experts convened by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has disputed that hypothesis, saying it was not supported by scientific evidence, but rather based solely on statements from 17 people arrested in the case who were tortured.
Jarab said he is not favoring any theory in the case and is seeking only to tell the judges involved in trying those facing charges that evidence gathered through torture should be thrown out.
The U.N. report noted cases of people arrested without resistance who later appeared with multiple injuries. It also mentioned people who were not immediately presented to court because of repeated delays blamed on car trouble or nonexistent street protests.
For example, Patricio Reyes Landa, one of those allegedly tied to the students’ burning, suffered electric shocks, beatings and suffocation as well as threats that his wife and daughters would be raped and killed, the report said.
The U.N. agency blamed in particular the Criminal Investigation Agency, a branch of the Attorney General’s Office, for many of the human rights violations.
“A person cannot be sentenced with only a statement obtained through torture,” Jarab said.
In the most recent audience before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Mexican government representatives said that of all the torture allegations investigated so far, only two had resulted positive.
The Attorney General’s Office recently said it has new information that will help explain the motive for the attack and will soon lead to about 30 more arrests.