Weekly News Round Up Feb. 18-22

Genocide Trial date moved from August 14th to March 19th
The trial for José Efraín Ríos Montt and José Rodriguez has officially been rescheduled. The trial is now set to begin on March 19th 2013. Judge Jazmín Barrios rejected a recusal presented by Ríos Montt’s defense against the First Court of High Risk.

US Southern Command General John Kelly makes an official visit to Guatemala
The General arrived on February 20th for a two day visit to the country. According to diplomatic sources, the purpose of the trip is to analyze and discuss issues of bilateral security, such as drug trafficking and organized crime, with Guatemalan officials.

Office of Secretary of Agricultural Affairs (SAA) looking for solutions to agrarian conflicts
Despite not having a head Secretary, the SAA has created a roundtable to resolve conflicts surrounding the construction of hydroelectric projects. Axel López, the deputy secretary says that while the issue does not pertain directly to the SAA, many of the problems that exist in the interior of the country relate to opposition to large-scale mining and hydroelectric projects. Santa Cruz Barillas is among the conflicts the roundtable is analyzing. López explains that he hopes to make the communities aware of the benefits to hydropower, but that the problems will continue to persist as long as the projects do not ensure that the cost of electricity goes down in the surrounding areas.

Public Prosecutor’s Office recuses judge in Totonicapán case
The Public Prosecutor’s Office presented a recusal against Judge Carol Patricia Flores who, last week, decided to change the crimes for which the nine soldiers are accused from extrajudicial execution to breach of duty and killing in a state of violent emotion. Furthermore, the district attorney presented an appeal for alleged violations committed relating to the change in the crime. The 48 Cantones of Totonicapán have announced that they will present an appeal for payment for the families of the victims.

Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) orders an investigation of the 10 judges charged with corruption
Within 60 days, the investigative judges named by the CSJ will provide a report regarding the investigation of the 10 judges the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) claimed favored organized crime. Once the report has been provided, the judges will decide whether to proceed with the pre-trial.

Creation of a Ministry for Women sought
Representatives from 15 social organizations visited Congress on February 23rd to ask that public policies supporting women’s rights not be forgotten and that a Ministry for Women be created. On February 19th, Guatemalan authorities signed the UN Women’s initiative to end violence against women, committing itself to promote equal opportunity, access to justice and respect for human rights for women.

Human Rights Ombudsman seeking investigation of 4 judges
Human Rights Ombudsman, Jorge de León Duque, has asked that the Court Monitoring body investigate the four judges involved in the case of the nine campesinos who were captured at Santa Cruz Barillas last May. De León says that the human rights of the 9 captured campesino were violated due to a delay in the judicial system which required them to wait for their case to be heard 16 days after their arrest.

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