On Wednesday the head of the U.N. Human Rights Office in Mexico slammed a recently released internal review of irregularities in the more than 2-year-old investigation into the disappearance of 43 students from the Ayotzinapa teachers' training college.
"It is regrettable that it turned out this way," said Jan Jarab, the representative of the U.N High Commissioner for Human Rights in Mexico. "The final results are a missed opportunity to effectively address the serious violations committed in the investigation of the Ayotzinapa case."
Jarab noted that the internal review released on Feb. 9 by Mexico's attorney general failed to address the serious irregularities documented by an earlier international panel of experts from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
That panel reported that former chief investigator, Tomas Zeron, had planted evidence and tortured potential witnesses and suspects, actions which not only sabotaged the investigation but also called into question its conclusion that the 43 students had been killed by a local drug cartel.
The panel found evidence pointing to high-level political involvement — including by state police and military officials — in the disappearance of the students from the primarily Indigenous teachers' college known as a hotbed of political organizing and activism.
The internal review released just over two weeks ago was ordered after a previous review — which was left unreleased — reportedly recommended criminal charges against Zeron.
Jarab lamented that this final and official report suggested that at worst Zeron and his team had committed only "administrative" errors in the course of the investigation.
"We feel the government's priority is no longer finding the truth about what happened to the students, but is much more concerned with hiding the reasons behind a historical cover-up," said Mario Patrón, a lawyer for the families of the missing students, said when the final review was released earlier last month.
"The problem is that the evidence was tampered with and the entire investigation has been manipulated and now they are denying the right to truth of 43 families," said Mario González, the father of one of the missing students.
For more than two years, the families of the 43 missing students have led an international campaign for a full investigation into the disappearance of their children. The families recently announced that unless there is serious progress in the investigation by March 9, they will "toughen up" their actions.