No. 1/03




On January 13, 2003, an international team of experts appointed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights will undertake a mission to Mexico City.  The team consists of Dr. Pedro Díaz Romero, Dr. Alan John Voth, and Dr. María Dolores Morcillo Méndez–experts in the areas of criminal, ballistic, and forensic pathology, respectively.  They will seek to verify part of the technical evidence obtained in the investigation of the death on October 19, 2001, of the human rights defender, Attorney Digna Ochoa y Plácido. Said investigation is being handled by the Office of the Public Prosecutor for the Federal District of Mexico.

Dr. Díaz Romero, an IACHR consultant, is also serving as coordinator of the international team of experts.  Dr. Alan John Voth, an expert whith the (Royal Canadian Mounted Police), is participating in the team with the Canadian Government’s collaboration. For her part, Dr. Morcillo Méndez is a forensic physician from the National Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences of Colombia.


The technical verification was requested by the Government of Mexico and by the petitioners in case P 12.299 (Digna Ochoa et al.), which is being processed by the Inter-American Commission.  The IACHR agreed to provide advice in the framework of the functions assigned to it by Article 41 of the American Convention on Human Rights.

          Pursuant to the terms of reference adopted by the IACHR, the international team of experts will verify whether the technical tests conducted in the areas of forensics, ballistics, and criminal pathology were consistent with international standards in the field.  Neither the IACHR nor the international experts are responsible for determining the circumstances of Attorney Digna Ochoa’s death or for identifying or prosecuting possible perpetrators as these tasks are solely within the purview of the Mexican authorities.


          Dr. Juan E. Méndez, President of the IACHR, said the following:


On behalf of the IACHR, I am grateful for the Mexican Government’s good will and the facilities it has provided as well as for the cooperation of the Canadian Government and the participation of the petitioners.  All of this makes it possible to carry out this technical activity in the framework of our functions to protect and promote human rights.


The experts will not make statements since this is an exclusively technical study and since the case is still in process and has not yet been decided on by the Commission.  Under the coordination of Dr. Díaz Romero, they will report on the results of their technical study to the IACHR, which will consider them in accordance with the procedure set out in the American Convention and the IACHR Statute and Rules of Procedure.  

 Washington, D.C. January 10, 2003