GHRC Condemns Expulsion of Two Human Rights Volunteers from Guatemala

GHRC condemns the recent decision to expel two Peace Brigades International (PBI) volunteers from Guatemala. The work of international observers and accompaniers to monitor, document and denounce human rights violations is important for the protection of human rights defenders. This arbitrary action by the Guatemalan Office of Migration Services and Interior Ministry puts defenders at increased risk and undermines efforts to promote human rights and peaceful conflict resolution.

Read PBI’s alert here (en español abajo):

CLOSURE OF SPACES CONTINUES: CANCELLATION OF TEMPORARY RESIDENCE PERMITS OF TWO VOLUNTEERS OF PEACE BRIGADES INTERNATIONAL
A new attack against the right to defend rights

2nd July 2014

Dear Sir or Madam,

Please accept cordial greetings from PBI Guatemala. The purpose of this Alert is to bring attention to and share our grave concern following the cancellation of the temporary residence permits of two volunteers of the PBI Guatemala project. This measure was decided by the Sub-directorate for Foreign Citizen issues which is part of the Office of Migration Services (Dirección General de Migración, DGM) and the Ministry of Interior (Ministerio de Gobernación), in two resolutions dated 1st July, without stating the reasons or events that led to this decision. The resulting situation affects both individuals and their immigration status, as well as the work of international accompaniment and observation for the defense of human rights which PBI has carried out in Guatemala for over 30 years. Continue reading

GHRC and Guatemalan groups express support for PBI and international accompaniment

[versión en español abajo]

IN RESPONSE TO THE CRIMINALIZATION OF PEACE BRIGADES INTERNATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL ACCOMPANIMENT

In the last few months, individuals and government officials have made public statements, to national and international audiences, which stigmatize and criminalize the work of human rights defenders who accompany communities and organizations working to promote the defense of human rights at the local level.

The use of defamation and criminalization is an attempt to isolate human rights defenders who, in their local context, confront power dynamics that not only exclude citizen participation, but that are based on discrimination, and are intolerant and violent. These interests seek to co-opt public opinion in order to open the doors to commercial practices which, in large part, turn their back on the rights of indigenous peoples, rights which are enshrined in International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 169.

The “Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms,” or the “Declaration on Defenders,” recognizes not only the rights and responsibilities of human rights defenders, but also the obligation of the State to protect defenders as they carry out their work, including activities in opposition to the policies or arbitrary actions of the State. Continue reading