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Mid-year statistics reveal that the human rights situation continues to worsen under the Giammattei administration. On August 23, the Unit for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (UDEFEGUA) presented its analysis on the situation for human rights defenders in the first half of 2022. Between January and June, UDEFEGUA recorded 589 aggressions against individuals, organizations, and communities that defend human rights. UDEFEGUA also demonstrated that under the first 2.5 years of President Alejandro Giammattei’s administration, more attacks on defenders have been carried out than during the four-year terms of any previous peacetime president. Attacks on human rights defenders have more than doubled since 2019, when the UN-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (known by its Spanish acronym CICIG) was forced out of the country.
In particular, the situation for women has worsened significantly. UDEFEGUA Program Associate Brenda Guillen presented the situation for women human rights defenders, outlining several alarming trends. Of the aggressions registered so far this year, 45 percent have been against women. According to the report, women working within the judicial sector were most attacked, followed by women seeking justice. Female human rights accompaniers were the third most attacked category. She pointed out that the most frequent attacks against women involve the criminalization of women, including defamation, baseless charges, and arbitrary arrest. In a joint report published in June, UDEFEGUA explained that these types of aggressions are “motivated by serious manifestations of misogyny and violence against women.”
General Coordinator Jorge Santos attributed the rise in attacks to “authoritarian consolidation,” which he identified by six indicators: the capture of institutions; alignment of the three state powers; dismantling of public institutions; increased violence and repression; militarization of civil life; and a rise of conservatism in society. He explained that, “The situation of institutional capture that we are seeing in Guatemala is very serious because it is aimed at guaranteeing impunity and silencing us as civil society.”
Prominent Journalist, Prosecutor, and Newspaper Employee Arrested
On the night of July 29, police raided the home of internationally renowned journalist José Rubén Zamora and arrested him. Zamora is founder and president of the newspaper El Periodico. Known for its investigative journalism, particularly into corruption in high spheres of government, El Periodico has become a target by pro impunity forces within Guatemala. The newspaper’s offices were also raided that night.
Special Prosecutor Samari Carolina Gómez Díaz was arrested on the same day and charged with leaking confidential information, in connection with the charges against Zamora. Gómez told reporters that since former head prosecutor Juan Francisco Sandoval was arbitrarily dismissed by the country’s attorney general last year, she has suffered increasing harassment. She has worked in the Public Ministry with a spotless record for 12 years.
On August 8, at the initial hearing of Zamora and Gómez, which had been postponed by more than a week, Judge Fredy Raúl Orellana Letona remanded the two to prison to await trial in detention. Zamora is accused of money laundering, blackmail, and influence peddling, charges which he denies. He attributes his arrest to the widening crackdown on freedoms in Guatemala, including freedom of expression.
Zamora’s arrest has been met with national and international outcry. According to Natalie Southwick, Latin America and Caribbean Program Coordinator of the Committee to Protect Journalists, “The continued detention of José Rubén Zamora is completely unwarranted and shows that Guatemalan prosecutors are scrambling to find any excuse to justify their actions against a journalist who is critical of the government.” United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres expressed concern about Zamora’s arrest and the legal actions carried out against justice officials in Guatemala. The International Observatory for Human Rights in Guatemala denounced his arrest and demanded his immediate release. Connecting the aggression to worrisome strategy employed by corrupt elites in Guatemala, the Observatory explained, “These attacks are part of a generalized pattern that has worsened, and that has as a common denominator the use of the criminal justice system to persecute critical voices and those who have contributed to unraveling the networks of corruption in the country.”
In spite of the international outcry surrounding Zamora’s arrest, Guatemala’s Public Ministry ordered the arrest of Flora Silva, the finance director of El Periodico on August 19. Police raided her home, leading her to suffer a hypertension crisis. She was hospitalized immediately. On August 23, she was transferred to Mariscal Zavala prison following her discharge from the hospital.
Ombudsman Transition Signifies Final Takeover of Institutions by Corrupt Forces
After completing his five-year term as Human Rights Ombudsman, which ended on August 20, Jordán Rodas was replaced by lawyer José Alejandro Córdova Herrera. Cordova was elected on July 20, garnering support in the Guatemalan congress from political allies of President Alejandro Giammattei. Human rights groups mourned the loss of what they identified as the “last independent institution” in Guatemala. In addition to his connections to what they call the “Pacto de Corruptos,”or corrupt elites, Cordova has been implicated in high-level cases of corruption but has not been investigated. “The challenge for the new ombudsman is his great closeness to figures in power and whose impunity continues,” explained General Coordinator of UDEFEGUA Jorge Santos. “We hope to see his independence from those figures.”
Rodas’ work gained him many admirers, as well as enemies. While human rights groups commended his work, in particular his tireless effort to prevent the expulsion of CICIG in 2019, that same effort made him a target for pro impunity groups like the Foundation Against Terrorism (FCT) and other powerful actors. Identified in the State Department’s 2021 Human Rights Report on Guatemala as the group that has filed the most cases against human rights defenders, the FCT has remained steadfast in its villanization of Rodas, claiming his work has fomented “polarization” in Guatemala. Video evidence from a hearing in March reveals a member of the FCT verbally threatening Rodas. In March, FCT president Ricardo Mendez Ruiz followed up on the threat, saying, “Remember that we personally promised you last March 15 to send you to jail as soon as you leave the position of PDH.”
Rodas entered El Salvador in the early morning hours of August 20, as migration authorities confirm. Rodas, however, has not made an official statement on his plans, other than to state that professional commitments and challenges would keep him out of the country for a while. If he does choose exile, he will join six Guatemalan journalists and 24 Guatemalan judges and prosecutors who have been forced to flee Guatemala.
Just Outside the Capital, Maya Poqomam Community Resists Harmful Mining
On July 27, Maya Poqomam community in Santa Cruz de Chinautla celebrated its first month of resistance against harmful gravel mining in its territories. Led by Indigenous Poqomom Authorities, the community established a peaceful resistance against the extraction of sand by the companies Arenera La Primavera and Piedrinera San Luis. According to community members, mining operations have continued in spite of the fact that the mining licenses of the companies have expired. As a result of this mining, significant damage has occurred to the surrounding houses, endangering the lives of the people who live in them, in addition to causing displacement.
Since its inception, the resistance has been subject to threats from the mining companies, personnel from the municipality, and National Civil Police (PCN). Community members report frequent visits from police officers, who routinely take photos of resistance members and taunt the group. On July 28–while the GHRC Emergency Human Rights Delegation was visiting the site–two police officers arrived, asking for more information about the meeting between GHRC and the resistance. When asked about his view on human rights, one of the officers responded, saying, “My job is to keep order, not human rights.”
The resistance is calling for the end to mining operations and the definitive cancellation of the licenses. In addition to maintaining a permanent encampment on the road to the mines, Indigenous Authorities have filed a claim to the Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM) and are continuing to consider other legal avenues. “We are certain that several rights have been violated here, the damage can no longer be hidden, so we are confident that some entity can help us to cancel these licenses,” said the spokesman for the ancestral authorities of Chinautla, Efraín Martínez.
Police Attempt to Evict Communities in Purulhá for the Third Time
In the early hours of the morning, hundreds of agents of the National Civil Police moved into the communities of Pancoc, Los Encinos and Mojón in the municipality of Purulhá, Baja Verapaz, in an attempt to evict the inhabitants of the communities. Unknown armed actors also entered the community, resulting in one injury by firearm. Community members speculated that the armed actors were hired by large landowners of the San Rafael and San Luis farms who have claimed ownership over Maya Q’eqchi’ and Poqomchi’ territories in the area and have filed several requests for evictions of the communities this year. The eviction was suspended once more, but police forces reportedly stayed in the area.
This incident marks the third eviction attempt by police in Purulhá this year that has resulted in violence. The community received precautionary measures issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in 2017 after threats made to them by large landowners in the area.
Former Special Prosecutor Forced to Stay in Pretrial Detention
On August 12, following an evidentiary hearing, Judge Sergio Mena Samayoa ruled to send Virginia Laparra, the former head of the Special Prosecutor’s Office Against Impunity (FECI) in Quetzaltenango, to trial. Laparra–who was arrested in February as part of a string of arrests against anti-impunity attorneys–faces trumped-up charges, including “abuse of authority.” Her trial has been set for November 28 of this year.
Laparra’s legal team filed a request for measures which would allow her to await trial outside of prison. The request for these measures, however, was not heard at Laparra’s late August hearing, where the judges recused themselves because of an alleged friendship they had with the plaintiffs. Laparra will remain in the Matamoros prison, where she continues to be held in solitary confinement, with access to sunlight for just one hour a day. She has received support from groups nationally and internationally, including the US State Department. In a statement released in March, the US State Department denounced the intentional criminalization of justice sector workers in Guatemala, which has revealed a “disturbing trend of corruption and the weakening of democratic institutions and processes in Guatemala.”
GHRC Delegation Visits Guatemala to Document Growing Repression
From July 23-30, GHRC led a delegation of Guatemala scholars and human rights professionals and activists to investigate the alarming regression in respect for human rights and the rule of law in Guatemala. The Emergency Human Rights Delegation met with human rights defenders throughout the country, as well as journalists, witnesses in transitional justice cases, and US embassy and Guatemalan officials. Three-time delegation participant Andrea Doll told US embassy staff, “This is the worst I’ve seen Guatemala. It’s painful to see the immense suffering. Something needs to be done before it gets even worse.”
According to General Coordinator of UDEFEGUA Jorge Santos, “The [human rights] situation is unprecedented in this century.” Defenders shared their concerns with delegates, including the role of the US. “It’s not that we don’t appreciate the support from the US, but we’re worried its messaging is not matching its actions,” explained Hector Reyes of the Center for Human Rights Legal Action (CALDH). Former Human Rights Ombudsman Jordan Rodas told delegates, “Corrupt actors need to face stronger consequences. They need to feel the economic impact of their actions with sanctions against them.” The delegation will be releasing a formal report in September, revealing our findings and including recommendations for the US government and the international community.
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GHRC, Protection International, and the Human Rights Defenders Project joint statement condemning actions of aggression against the Ixil Authorities in their office in Nebaj English Translation Below August 31, 2022 On the afternoon of August 31, the Ixil Indigenous Authorities … Continue reading
In spite of widespread international criticism, the Guatemalan government has ramped up its efforts to criminalize those in the fight against corruption and impunity. On July 29, police arrested one of Guatemala’s most prominent journalists. José Ruben Zamora–founder and director … Continue reading
In its annual human rights report released last week, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has placed Guatemala in chapter IV.B, reserved for countries that violate aspects of the Inter-American Democratic Charter. Analyzing the human rights situation in 2021 in the Organization of American States’ thirty-five member states, the IACHR has grouped Guatemala with Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. Explaining its decision to include Guatemala in this section, the IACHR cites “structural situations that seriously affect the use and enjoyment of fundamental rights recognized in the American Declaration, the American Convention or other applicable instruments,” including “systematic noncompliance of the State with its obligation to combat impunity, attributable to a manifest lack of will.”
The IACHR report lists observations of systematic actions that have interfered with the independence of the justice system, which in turn have weakened the work of independent institutions, particularly those that continued to work to combat corruption and impunity since the departure of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). It cites “irregularities in the process to select Constitutional Court judges for the 2021-2026 term; the refusal to swear in a judge who had been selected to serve on the Constitutional Court; the delay by the Congress of the Republic in continuing with the process of selection and nomination to the High Courts; the dismissal of the head of the FECI; and the alleged abuse of motions for impeachment (antejuicio proceedings) to intimidate or eventually remove judges from office.”
Moreover, the report notes that 2021 was a particularly dangerous year for human rights defenders” due to continuing acts of violence and proceedings to criminalize those who defend human rights in the country.” It mentions the closure of democratic spaces, which “makes it more difficult to exercise the right to defend human rights in Guatemala.” Raising the issue of violence, the IACHR notes the impact of murder of defenders in 2021, particularly of members of the Campesino Development Committee, which has suffered 24 murders in the last four years. According to the report, “When an assault is committed in reprisal for a human rights defender’s actions, it produces a chilling effect on those connected to the defense and promotion of human rights,” especially in indigenous communities where the killing of a leader has “a serious impact on [the community’s] cultural integrity and breaks down the sense of community that binds them together in their struggle to defend their human rights.”
The report warns that “the systematic interference in the independence of the judiciary, the weakening of human rights institutions, and the increasingly evident setbacks in the fight against corruption and impunity have an impact, in turn, on democratic stability and the very exercise of human rights by the Guatemalan people.”
CODECA Leader Assassinated in Izabal
Human rights and environmental defender Pablo Ramos was killed in Navojoa, Morales, Izabal. According to witnesses, he was shot by two individuals on a motorcycle in the afternoon of June 7, while in the general store he owned. Ramos reportedly had received multiple threats from members of the Manchame family, who live in the same community, with whom community members have had a dispute over land. According to his family members, on June 6, Ramos had attended a conciliation hearing at the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Morales, Izabal, where he had been summoned by the Manchame family.
Ramos had been a member of the Campesino Development Committee (CODECA) for 12 years, working to recover and defend the land of his community. CODECA condemned “this systematic, lethal violence that today annihlated the life of our brother and comrade” and demanded justice. Twenty-four members of CODECA have been murdered since 2018.
Judge Rules that Former Special Prosecutor Must Continue to Await her Trial from Prison
The hearing for Virginia Laparra Rivas–former head of Quetzaltenango’s branch of Guatemala’s Special Prosecutor’s Office against Impunity (FECI)–-took place on June 7. Laparra’s legal team filed a request for “substitutive measures” which would allow her to await her trial under house arrest. The request, however, was denied by Judge Sergio Mena, who ruled to move Laparra to the Matamoros prison, where she will stay until her trial. Her hearing has been suspended, and a new date has not been set.
Prior to Laparra’s hearing, demonstrators gathered outside of the courthouse in solidarity with Laparra, demanding her release. She was accompanied by the Unit for Protection of Human Rights Defenders in Guatemala (UDEFEGUA). Judge Mena, however, barred the media and UDEFEGUA from entering the courtroom and allowed authorities to block courtroom windows with paper.
Laparra will now stand trial for the charge of breach of duty. The charge stems from her presentation of legal complaints related to the misconduct of former high risk judge Lesther Castellanos. National and international organizations have denounced the charges against her as criminalization, stating that the Guatemalan government has begun “the systematic persecution of those who confronted corruption, assembling spurious cases in order to carry out political vengeance.” As a direct result of arbitrary delays in the legal process, Laparra spent over 100 days in Mariscal Zavala prison in pretrial detention, under conditions that she denounced as disproportionately extreme for her charges. Clinical psychologists identified her treatment by authorities as psychological torture.
In addition to her pretrial detention, Laparra has faced threats on social media from the Foundation Against Terrorism and its supporters. In respect to Laparra’s continuing persecution, the advocacy organization Justicia Ya condemned “the revenge of defenders of corruption” in a judicial process that is “opaque” and “full of irregularities.”
CC Gives Human Rights Commission 48 Hours to Submit Evidence Against Human Rights Ombudsman
On June 8, Guatemala’s Constitutional Court (CC) processed Human Rights Ombudsman Jordan Rodas’ appeal and required that the Human Rights Commission of the Guatemalan Congress supply corresponding records or a circumstantial report within 48 hours. Rodas’s request came following the Commission’s May 31 attempt to remove him from office, the seventh such removal attempt he has faced throughout his almost five years in the position. He is accused of campaigning for the position of rector of the University of San Carlos during working hours, a charge he claims lacks legal merit. He also asserts that the legal process violates his right to defense, as his summons occurred while he was in Ecuador attending the IV Ibero-American Migration Summit.
In light of the removal attempt, Rodas has faced increasing blatant threats and ridicule, especially from leaders within Foundation against Terrorism (FCT). Video footage reveals FCT lawyer Raul Falla threatening Rodas when the men crossed paths at Virginia Laparra’s hearing on June 8. However, various human rights organizations—including the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights—have expressed concern over the recent treatment of Rodas. Jorge Santos, director of UDEFEGUA, also expressed support for Rodas and denounced the removal process as an attempt to achieve “the absolute capture of state” so “those who hold power can commit acts of corruption and violence without receiving sanctions.”
Congress Will Discuss Removal of Jordan Rodas as Human Rights Ombudsman On May 31, the Human Rights Commission of the Guatemalan Congress voted in favor of a proposal to request a plenary session to discuss the removal of Human Rights … Continue reading
Pro-Military Allies Threaten Judge After Ruling to Send Former Officers to Trial On May 4, Judge Miguel Ángel Gálvez ruled to send nine former soldiers and police officers to trial for charges of attempted murder, murder, forced disappearances, and crimes … Continue reading
On April 25, the Nomination Commission announced the final six candidates for Attorney General. The candidates include Néctor Guilebaldo de León Ramírez, Jorge Luis Donado Aguilar, Darleene Apolonia Monge Pinelo, Gabriel Estuardo García Luna, Henry Alejandro Elías Wilson, and María … Continue reading
Reporting on the human rights situation in Guatemala, the US State Department illustrated worsening conditions and highlighted the role that corruption and impunity have played in the last year. The 2021 Human Rights Report–released on April 12–summarizes and provides examples of what the State Department deems “significant human rights issues” in Guatemala, including the following: unlawful and arbitrary killings; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; serious problems with the independence of the judiciary; restrictions on freedom of expression, including threats and violence against journalists; interference with freedom of association and organization; and significant corruption.
The State Department emphasizes a concerted effort from corrupt actors aimed at “undermining anti-corruption institutions and the judiciary” which in turn makes “meaningful investigation and prosecution of crimes, including corruption involving public officials difficult.” The report mentions the arbitrary removal of Juan Francisco Sandoval in July of 2021 and subsequent charges filed against him for abuse of authority, as well as attempts to remove the immunity of independent judges like Erika Aifán. Both Sandoval and Aifán have since fled Guatemala in fear of their lives.
In addition to attacks on judicial sector workers, the report mentions attacks on defenders and journalists, including defamation, surveillance, threats, criminalization, and murders. Citing UDEFEGUA, the report mentioned that ten defenders were killed between January and November 2021 and that unfounded judicial cases filed against human rights defenders have doubled since 2020. But according to the State Department, while “the government, fringe groups, and private entities used threats of legal action as a form of intimidation,” the Guatemalan government, “took little action to protect these individuals.”
Moreover, the State Department highlighted threats to freedom of assembly, which worsened over the last year. In particular, the NGO Law–passed last May–poses a serious threat to human rights organizations and indigenous movements. Mentioning the case of El Estor, the report illustrates the use of state security forces to silence dissent, infringing upon freedom of expression. It also mentions that the consultation that took place on the Fénix Project was conducted during a state of siege in which freedom of movement was restricted. In terms of compliance with ILO 169, the report states,“The government did not always consult with all affected parties and indigenous leaders, and activists regularly reported being harassed and threatened for their work.”
The State Department report echoes concerns from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR), which recently gave Guatemala a ‘C’ rating for its progress on human rights. Back in March, the UNHCR expressed concern over the lack of measures and political will to implement policies to protect human rights, specifically noting how the forced evictions of indigenous peoples were not in line with international standards.
Former Prosecutor Suffers Psychological Torture in Pretrial Detention
The former head of the Special Prosecutor’s Office Against Impunity (FECI) in Quetzaltenango, Virginia Laparra, has suffered almost two months in pretrial detention. “I see the sunlight once a day, I was torn away from my land, my beautiful, beloved and incomparable Quetzaltenango. They took me away from my home, my family, my friends, they left me without work and took away my freedom,” Laparra explained in an open letter to the people of Guatemala that was given to Human Rights Ombudsman Jordan Rodas during a visit. Rodas traveled to Mariscal Zavala prison on April 2 to verify her conditions and found that her emotional and physical wellbeing were at risk.
Laparra–who suffers from claustrophobia–is currently being held in solitary confinement. Authorities allege this is for her protection, according to clinical psychologist Vania Morales, however, “By keeping her locked up, they are re-traumatizing her and that is psychological torture.” Her cell–which is essentially a small metal box with a door–was described by an official from Disabilities Rights International as “somewhere between Willowbrook and a Concentration Camp.” According to former Attorney General Thelma Aldana,“Her life is the responsibility of Consuelo Porras who is persecuting her.”
According to Laparra, the case mounted against her constitutes “selective and malevolent discrimination and criminalization.” Attorney General Consuelo Porras–who was added to the US State Department’s list of corrupt actors in Central America in September–issued a warrant for Laparra’s arrest on February 24 for the alleged crimes of giving false testimony, abuse of authority, and encroachment of functions. As one of the anti-corruption attorneys detained following a string of arrests in February, Laparra is the last to remain in prison. On April 18, her intermediate hearing was suspended once again, further extending her time in pretrial detention.
Journalist Flees Guatemala
Juan Luis Font announced on twitter that he has left Guatemala, stating, “In this moment of tension, caused by spurious accusations, I have decided to take some distance.” Font has worked as a journalist in Guatemala for over 25 years; he founded news outlet El Periodico and currently works as a host on the political analysis show Con Criterio.
Font fled Guatemala after charges were filed against him for illegal association. The Committee to Protect Journalists decried the persecution of Font and said Guatemalan authorities should immediately dismiss criminal proceedings against him and allow him to work freely without fear of reprisal.
Attorney General Consuelo Porras ruled to open investigations into Font in December of last year related to allegations brought forward by former Minister of Communications Alejandro Sinibaldi. Sinibaldi–who is now in prison awaiting trial–claims that Font accepted over $200,000 in bribes from him between 2012 and 2014. On March 22, Sinibaldi brought forward another complaint against Font, this time claiming he colluded with former High Risk Court Judge Erika Aifán. Font, however, has denied the accusations. According to former Attorney General Thelma Aldana, “It is part of the revenge process of the ‘Pact of Corruption’ to attack and criminalize independent journalists who are committed to the fight against corruption and impunity.”
Organizations Demand Transparency in Upcoming Attorney General Elections
From April 5 through 7, protestors gathered outside the Palace of Justice in Guatemala City and in the Q’eqchi and Poqomchi region to demand a Public Ministry (MP) free of corrupt actors. Popular opposition to current Attorney General Consuelo Porras and her bid for reelection inspired a new wave of protests across the country. Several national and international organizations called on the Attorney General Nomination Committee to abstain from voting for candidates “linked to President Giammattei and the now widely known criminal structures” in Guatemala. The Social and Popular Assembly of Guatemala (ASP) denounced candidates they identified as associated with the “Pact of Corruption,” including María Consuelo Porras, current Attorney General, who is named on the US State Department’s Engel List; Jorge Luis Donado, current head of the Attorney General’s Office; José Enrique Urrutia Estrada, lawyer for the Foundation against Terrorism; Henry Alejandro Elías, magistrate for the Chamber of the Court of Appeals on Femicide and Crimes Against Women; Óscar Dávila, Director of the Presidential Commission against Corruption; and Gloria Dalila Suchité, acting High Risk Court judge.
The process of electing a new Attorney General began on January 31, when the 15-member Nomination Committee–composed of law schools deans and other legal field professionals, and led by President of the Supreme Court Silvia Patricia Valdez–began reviewing a list of 26 applicants to select the final list of six candidates, from which President Giammattei will choose the next Attorney General. The commission plans to submit their final 6 candidates by Wednesday, April 20.
The International Observatory on Human Rights in Guatemala denounced that under Consuelo Porras, “the MP has been used to persecute agents of justice, journalists, and human rights defenders committed to the fight against corruption and the defense of human rights.” According to human rights groups, the outcome of this election is crucial for the future of rule of law in Guatemala.
Chicoyogüito Defenders Sent to Trial in Cobán
On March 30th, Judge Úrsula Teyul ruled to send 21 human rights defenders from Chicoyogüito to trial for “aggravated usurpation,” a charge they supposedly incurred during a peaceful protest in June 2021. Chicoyogüito land defenders initiated the peaceful demonstration to demand that the state return their ancestral land. The National Civil Police responded to the protests with force, injuring Chicoyogüito members and arresting 21 defenders.
The decades-long struggle to recover their ancestral land began in 1968, when the Guatemalan Army forcibly evicted Chicoyogüito community members to establish an army base. In addition to human rights violations associated with the forced displacement of the community, the base was used during the internal armed conflict for torture, forced disappearences, and political assassinations. As one of Latin America’s largest clandestine cemeteries, the base contains human remains that are evidence in two transitional justice cases.
Organizations raised concerns over the transparency of the hearings. During one of the hearings, UDEFEGUA and the press were removed from the courtroom. The next hearing is scheduled for April 21.
GHRC Accompanies Prosecution in the Death Squad Dossier Case
The GHRC Guatemala Team accompanied the prosecution team in the intermediate stage of the Death Squad Dossier (Diario Militar) case. After previous delays, intermediate hearings for the Death Squad Dossier case began on April 5. The prosecution presented evidence against defendants, which included images from the dossier and witness testimony. The hearings were suspended and continued on April 18. Once intermediate hearings conclude, presiding Judge Miguel Ángel Gálvez will determine if the defendants will stand trial for their purported crimes.
Leaked in 1999, the Death Squad Dossier is a military archive that details the crimes committed against 183 presumed enemies of the state–including children–from 1983 to 1985, during Guatemala’s internal armed conflict. The 11 former soldiers implicated in the crimes face charges of numerous forced disappearances; kidnappings; illegal detentions; murders and attempted murders; acts of sexual violence; and crimes against humanity.
Although the crimes took place nearly 40 years ago, the trial of those involved is an essential step in bringing justice to the victims and their families. GHRC continues to support the prosecution team, which has faced threats for its work, as well as the families of the victims in their search for justice.