On Wednesday, thousands of people from 20 departments marched for reforms concerning land and energy in Guatemala. Organized by the National Committee of Peasant Farmers, the marchers demanded land reform, nationalization of electricity, and a halt to mineral exploitation in their communities. In total, about 40,000 people participated, and the march lasted for seven hours. Smaller protests were also registered in other parts of the country.
The First Board of Appeals’ Penal Branch cannot yet determine the merits of the final judgment made by the Constitutional Court regarding whether Decree Law 8-86 for amnesty applies to Efrain Ríos Montt. The Constitutional Court must send the document to the Supreme Court of Justice, which will then be sent on to the First Board. After the First Board receives the document, it will have five days to answer the Constitutional Court’s question on amnesty.
In an opinion piece for Al Jazeera, Lauren Carasik expresses concern for the likelihood that these delays will allow Montt to avoid justice and incur financial and emotional costs for the victims, witnesses, and lawyers. She also discusses the illegitimacy of possible amnesty as well as the consequences that amnesty would have on Guatemala’s fragile justice system.
The trial of Efrain Rios Montt for genocide has been pushed back to January 2015; a court official said that judges were too busy with other cases to resume the trial during 2014. Families of victims of the armed conflict expressed regret at the decision to push the resumption of the trial back this far. Hector Reyes, a lawyer with the Center for Human Rights Legal Action (CALDH), criticized the new date and said that the court decision is a violation of victims’ rights.
Prosecutors of the Rios Montt genocide case presented a complaint to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on Wednesday, November 6, to reinforce the 80-year prison sentence that was handed down to Rios Montt earlier this year. Petitioners stated that Guatemala failed to guarantee justice because of irregularities throughout the trial and a lack of access to military archives. Previously, the IACHR has requested that Guatemalan authorities investigate human rights abuses committed during the civil war and affirmed that Guatemala’s amnesty law does not impede that process.