Public Forum on Genocide in Guatemala: The Future of the Trial against Ríos Montt and Rodríguez Sánchez

Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), Due Process of Law Foundation (DPLF), Guatemala Human Rights Commission (GHRC), International Platform against Impunity, Latin American Studies at George Mason University, Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI), and the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) are please to invite you to a public forum on
Genocide in Guatemala: The Future of the Trial against Ríos Montt and Rodríguez Sánchez
Featuring:

Claudia Paz y Paz
Georgetown Law and former Attorney General of Guatemala

Francisco Soto
Center for Human Rights Legal Action (CALDH)

Edwin Camil
Center for Human Rights Legal Action (CALDH)

Edgar Pérez
Human Rights Legal Office (Bufete Jurídico de Derechos Humanos)

Jorge Santos
International Center for Human Rights Research (CIIDH)

Claudia Samayoa
Unit for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders in Guatemala (UDEFEGUA)

Marcia Aguiluz
Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL)

and moderated by

Jo-Marie Burt
George Mason University and WOLA Senior Fellow

Friday, October 31, 2014
9:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
2nd floor, Room B and C
1779 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20036

To RSVP, please click here. For more information please contact Ashley Davis at +1 (202) 797-2171 or adavis@wola.orgThe event will be held in Spanish.
On May 10, 2013, the ex-dictator of Guatemala José Efraín Ríos Montt was sentenced to 80 years in prison for genocide and crimes against humanity for his role in the extrajudicial execution of 1,771 indigeous Ixil Mayans between 1982 and 1983. Just ten days later, the Constitutional Court, under pressure from business and military sectors, overturned part of the proceedings, thereby nullifying the verdict. Since then the genocide case has been in a holding pattern. The tribunal now in charge of the case announced last year that it would reopen the case in January 2015. The world will be watching as Guatemala struggles to pursue accountability for the crimes of the past.

Speaking at this event are members of Guatemalan civil society and former Attorney General of Guatemala Claudia Paz y Paz, who created space in the Public Prosecutor’s Office for victims of Guatemala’s armed conflict to access truth and justice after more than three decades. The speakers will discuss the legal status of the genocide proceedings, the political environment and how it influences the legal situation, the effects of the stalled proceedings on the victims, and the status of the petition filed by the victims before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Guatemala News Update: October 13-17

Process for the Election of Judges in Guatemala in Question

At least 80 actions have been filed with the Constitutional Court related to the process of selecting the magistrates for Guatemala’s Supreme Court and appeals courts.

The United Nations, the Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office and several national and international organizations have requested that the Constitutional Court (CC) order a repeat of the process from the very beginning, alleging that there were various violations of the law which governs the process. The CC also ordered that until it is able to rule on the actions, the appointment of the new magistrates is suspended, and the existing magistrates will remain in their positions.

In addition, one judge who was appointed to a court of appeals, Claudia Escobar, resigned in protest claiming that she had been pressured by a member of Congress, Gudy Rivera, to rule in favor of Vice President Roxana Baldetti and the ruling Patriot Party in exchange for the appointment to the court. In response, the CICIG requested the Rivera’s immunity from prosecution be removed.

In a separate process, two lawyers have been charged with abuse of power with the Third Appeals Court Judge, Erick Gustavo Santiago de Leon. The Public Prosecutors Office alleges that the attorneys offered Santiago de Leon Q16 million to reduce a fine for a company from Q93 million to Q3 million. Meanwhile, the magistrate was reelected to the appeals court. Continue reading

Guatemala News Update: October 6 – 10

Request to Lift “State of Prevention”

Residents of San Juan Sacatepéquez are requesting that the government lift the “state of prevention.” There is extreme tension between soldiers and civilians; soldiers are intimidating children, and some offer them candy in exchange for the names of their parents or the whereabouts of people the Public Ministry is searching for.

Supreme Court Asked to Take Action on Nominations

Human rights ombudsman Jorge de León Duque has demanded that the Constitutional Court take action in order to resolve the controversy surrounding the recent selection of thirteen judges. Claudia Escobar, a judge from the Fifth Circuit of Appeals, has also renounced the elections. Some minority sections of Congress are asking that the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala investigate, though the organization has yet to receive a formal request.

No Respect for Human Life

Archbishop Óscar Julio Vian Morales claims Guatemala has no respect for human life, speaking in light of recent violent incidents, such as the kidnapping and murder of a ten year-old girl named Dulce Velásquez. To combat rising violence, Vian proposes a better education system and the cultivation of values in children.

Halt in Adoptions May Be Fueling Border Surge

In 2008, Guatemala halted all adoption proceedings. Before this, about 4,000 children a year were adopted by American parents. Some experts are saying that this halt is contributing to the recent surge of migrant children to the United States. Advocates point out that if adoptions had not been halted, many of these children risking their lives en route to the United States could have been legally adopted in the first place. In the United States, these children face detention centers and deportation, while in Guatemala, they face poverty and exploitation by gangs.

Mexican Raids Resume

Mexico has resumed raids against the influx of Central American immigrants crossing its borders in order to reach the United States.

Guatemala News Update: September 29-October 3

Former Guatemalan Police Chief to Stand Trial

A trial began this week against former police chief Pedro García Arredondo, who is being charged with ordering the massacre of 37 people who were peacefully protesting inside the Spanish Embassy in 1980. The massacre, which involved soldiers and police setting fire to the embassy, occurred in the context of Guatemala’s 36-year-long civil war. Thirty-seven people, most of them indigenous Mayans, were killed.

Child Migration to US “Neither Sin or Crime” Says Guatemala Foreign Affairs Minister at United Nations General Assembly 2014

Guatemalan Foreign Affairs Minister Carlos Raul Morales spoke to the United Nations General Assembly on the importance of promoting greater prosperity in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, in light of the recent child migration crisis. Morales spoke about the importance of working with the United States to resolve the issue, but warned against criminalizing the children, citing the culpability of human trafficking networks.

European Union Donates $15.4 Million To Strengthen Justice in Guatemala

The European Union has appropriated $15.4 million in aid to Guatemala. The money will go towards improving the quality of justice services, such as the Institute of National Forensics and the Penitentiary System, among others. Continue reading

Five Years Later: Celebrating the Life of Adolfo Ich Chamán

Gallery

This gallery contains 3 photos.

GHRC stands in solidarity with families and community members gathering today in El Estor, Guatemala to commemorate the five-year anniversary of the assassination of Adolfo Ich Chamán. On September 27 of 2009, Adolfo was murdered by private security forces working for … Continue reading

Carta de Solidaridad: Recordando la vida de Adolfo Ich Chamán

Angelica Choc con una foto de su esposo, Adolfo Ich Chamán. Foto por James Rodríguez.

Angelica Choc with a photo of her husband, Adolfo. Photo by James Rodríguez.

Guatemala, 27 de septiembre de 2014

Han pasado cinco años desde aquel día en que cortaron la vida del profesor Adolfo Ich Chamán. Con su asesinato se hizo evidente, una vez más, que en Guatemala siguen corriendo muchos riesgos quienes tienen como opción de vida trabajar en servicio de los demás. Y ese era Adolfo Ich Chaman, el profesor, el padre, el esposo, el vecino, el ser humano que por sus convicciones a favor de los derechos, la justicia y la vida hoy no está con nosotros físicamente, pero que hoy le estamos recordando. Continue reading

Guatemalan News Update: September 22-26

Community Members and Organizations Commemorate 5th Anniversary of Killing of Adolfo Ich

On September 27 of 2009, Adolfo Ich Chamán was murdered by private security forces working for the Fenix nickel mine in El Estor, Guatemala. Adolfo’s death was part of a wave of violence committed by employees of CGN, the Guatemalan subsidiary of Canadian mining company Hudbay Minerals, against anti-mine activists. On the same day that Adolfo was killed, seven others were injured, including German Chub, who was shot and left paralyzed.

Community members in El Estor will commemorate Adolfo’s death, as well as the ongoing community resistance, through ceremonies and events to take place on September 27, 2014. Representatives of GHRC will be present at the commemoration in Guatemala. Today, a memorial in solidarity with those in El Estor will also be held in Toronto in front of Hudbay’s corporate headquarters.

State of Emergency in Guatemala Town After Clashes

On September 22nd, Guatemala declared a “State of Prevention” in San Juan Sacatepéquez, a municipality outside the capital. The emergency measures, which suspend constitutional rights, were allegedly put in place in response to acts of violence committed in the community of Los Pajoques on the 19th and 20th of September. The clash, which killed eleven people, resulted from disagreements over the construction of a cement factory and proposed highway which would cut through the community.

Click here to read GHRC’s statement detailing concerns over the State of Prevention in San Juan Sacatepéquez.

Congress Receives “Acceptable” List for the Supreme Court of Justice

On September 22nd, a list of twenty-six candidates for the Supreme Court of Justice was sent to Congress. Thirteen Supreme Court judges were then elected from the list candidates, amongst suspicions that the final list had already been decided upon prior to the vote. Human rights groups have expressed frustration at the selection proceedings, which have been criticized as being opaque, responding to private interests, and guaranteeing a “pact of impunity.”

New Talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry

On September 23rd, government officials from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras met with Secretary of State John Kerry to present plans to stop the influx of unaccompanied immigrant children into the United States. The plans were the result of a July meeting with President Barack Obama. Chancellor Carlos Raúl Morales, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, said, “The idea is that from these plans, a discussion with the United States will open for two or three months…”

Plans for Immigrant Family Detention Center Draws Criticism

Federal officials are planning the construction of a new detention center near San Antonio to house Central American immigrant children and their parents. This new center could be run by a for-profit prison firm with a history of holding families in deplorable conditions. Advocates warn against the use of detention centers to house families. “It breaks down the structure of families,” said Michelle Brané, director of migrant rights and justice at the Women’s Refugee Commission.

New Instances of Political Repression of “Los q’eqchies”

This article looks at the connection between violence and the exploitation of natural resources in Alta Verapaz, where the construction of a hydroelectric dam is being planned. On August 15th, the National Civil Police violently evicted dozens of families and entered the village of Semococh in order to capture two leaders of Codeca, an organization of peasants and indigenous peoples calling for justice and better living conditions. The conflict ended in a violent clash between the police and villagers, which left three villagers dead.