Ayotzinapa: truth commission on the works

AMLO's administration will also establish truth commissions for other important cases such as Nochixtlán, Tlatlaya, and the mass graves in San Fernando

Ayotzinapa: truth commission on the works
The new administration must follow a protocol previously established by international organisms - Photo: Cristopher Rogel Blanquet/EL UNIVERSAL
English 13/09/2018 14:07 Mariluz Roldán Mexico City Actualizada 13:24

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There's no manual that explains how to achieve peace in Mexico, but if you consider the international experience in Latin America, they all began by installing a truth commission that later led to an amnesty law, an incentive for criminals to confess and obtain more information about the crimes, but without releasing them from prison, experts explained.

Andrés Manuel López Obrador's team is analyzing different types of commissions for specific cases, and the first one will be Ayotzinapa, “which has to be exemplary and set a precedent with its results”, but other important cases such as Nochixtlán, Tlatlaya, and the mass graves in San Fernando are also being considered, confirmed Alejandro Encinas, who will lead the Human Rights, Population, and Migration office, part of the Internal Affairs Ministry (Segob).

“I think this is going to break with the orthodoxy, but very unconventional solutions are needed to face the huge problems we have, in regards to human rights violations. Sadly, the country has turned into an enormous clandestine mass grave”, he emphasized.

Encinas Rodríguez explained that the “truth commissions are the first step to guarantee the right to memory and truth of all the victims and their families, but we want to change the concept because we believe that learning the truth is not enough, but that justice is delivered and put an end to impunity”.

The four pillars

Jan Jarab, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights' representative in Mexico, said that in transitional justice it's “important that they keep 4 pillars in mind: truth, justice so there's no impunity, the reparations to the victims, and the guarantee that it won't happen again”.

“Once they carry out the clarification process of historical facts, they should use other transitional justice's tools, which can be to judge the perpetrators. Lastly, when it's the case, they have a series of options through the truth, which are amnesty, sentence reductions, pardons, concessions, or incentives to make the criminals talk”, explained Fabián Sánchez, a lawyer and expert on transitional justice from the ITAM.

He explained that the process takes place when a country goes from a dictatorship to a democracy or after a conflict, that's why the situation in Mexico is difficult to compare with other countries, but the common denominator is that all these countries “face extraordinary problems with extraordinary measures”.

Latin American examples

In Latin America, seven truth commissions have been established in Chile, Argentina, Peru, Brazil, Paraguay, El Salvador, and Bolivia, although they have been named in different ways. The case of South Africa is also relevant, where this mechanism was established once the Apartheid was over, while in Europe, Spain proposes to create a commission to examine the human rights violations committed during Franco's regime.

The UN defines transitional justice as “a series of processes and mechanism associated with society's intention to solve problems derived from a massive past full of abuses, in order to force the responsible ones to be held accountable, to deliver justice, and achieve a reconciliation”.

Achieving peace is “the most complicated part” because you will have, on one side, organisms such as a truth commission working, but in a frame like Mexico, where we still have general violations of rights. It's not enough to learn the truth, but the information obtained should be used to generate that peace process, or on the contrary, it's not useful to learn the truth without ending the terror”, says Daniel Vázquez, a researcher from the Flacso.

Developments to keep in mind

Catalina Pérez Correa, a researcher from the CIDE's Law Division, said that the last point could be an amnesty law that “couldn't be for everyone, but rather apply to those who participate in the process and confess their crimes; they might tell them: we're going to reduce your sentence, also, and also clear your criminal record. There are different ways to do it”.

The experts all coincide that the process will take time, but they affirm that there will be results, although slowly, for example, the truth might be known two or three years after the implementation of the commission, on the medium term they would guarantee it won't be repeated and on the long term, there will be trials against the perpetrators.

If they are able to apply every measure from the transitional justice, the overview is promising: “It's very clear that all the justice measures from the transitional justice, mainly truth and justice, cause a decrease in crime levels, which is important for a country like Mexico, where crime levels are on the rise”.

“If we start the process the Mexican way, but well done, looking at experiences from other countries, we will have a positive impact”, said Sánchez, from the ITAM.