Mexico: UN rights office urges authorities to ‘step up’ efforts to find missing students

Ravina Shamsadani, Spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
UN Multimedia
Ravina Shamsadani, Spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Mexico: UN rights office urges authorities to ‘step up’ efforts to find missing students

The United Nations human rights office has voiced concern about the continued enforced disappearance of students in the Mexican town of Iguala and urged local authorities to step up their efforts in finding them.

Speaking to reporters in Geneva earlier today, Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), welcomed the work done by Mexican authorities in tracking the 43 missing students but added that their “mechanisms have not yet been successful” in resolving the disappearance.

According to media reports, the students were last seen on 26 September as they arrived in Iguala to stage a protest. Upon debarking from their bus, the students were blocked by police who, by some accounts, were operating in collusion with a local criminal gang. The police then fired upon the students, killing six people, including a 15-year old child and three students, and injuring another 17 people, while the 43 students were then taken into custody.

As a result of initial investigations, 52 people have been arrested in connection with the students’ disappearance, including at least 36 local police officers, and security forces, investigators and technical resources have been deployed to Iguala and the surrounding region. In addition, the Ministry of Interior and the Attorney General have established a direct dialogue with families, students and NGOs.

Despite these efforts, the students remain missing.

Ms. Shamdasani expressed concern that nine mass graves were discovered on the outskirts of Iguala and urged Mexican authorities to conduct “effective, prompt and impartial investigations so as to identify those who were buried in the mass graves and bring those responsible to justice.”

She added that the UN Human Rights Office in Mexico was following closely these cases and was ready to provide any assistance that may be required.