Persecusión Política a Defensores de Derechos Humanos Se Agrava

An update from the Guatemalan Human Rights Protection Unit (UDEFEGUA) on the criminalization of human rights defenders in Guatemala, especially regarding recent actions taken by courts and judges which violate the minimum legal guarantees of the accused.

Comunicado por UDEFEGUA:

La segunda semana de noviembre se tornó en una donde el Sistema de Justicia muestra su participación en la persecución política a defensores y defensoras de derechos humanos.

El día jueves 13 de noviembre, el juez de primera instancia de Villa Nueva decidió enviar a juicio a Oscar Morales, líder de la resistencia en San Rafael Las Flores, por una presunta amenaza realizada al gerente de la empresa minera San Rafael, S.A. subsidiaria de la Tahoe Resources, minera canadiense.  En la audiencia de imputación el juez había mostrado su parcialidad cuando ligó a proceso al defensor sin elementos de investigación.  Ahora al trasladar el proceso vuelve a hacerlo sin que exista elementos de investigación claros, ya que el mismo Ministerio Público había planteado que no podía acusar al defensor.  Fue claro que al trasladar el caso al Tribunal de Sentencia de Villa Nueva para que se procesa al juicio, el juez obedecía intereses privados representados por el abogado del querellante adhesivo.  El día 29 de diciembre está ordenado el inicio del debate oral y público en contra de Oscar Morales.  Continue reading

News Update: July 11-July 24

Mining

Suspension of mining license in San Rafael

The Civil and Commercial Court of Appeals suspended the mining license for the San Rafael Mine, El Escobal.  It also ordered the Director of the mine, Fernando Castellanos, of the Ministry of Energy and Mines, to negotiate the complaints presented by social organizations against mining activities.  The sentence was given by the Center of Legal, Social and Environmental Action (Calas).

Three lawsuits against HudBay in Canada to move forward

The lawsuits seek to hold Hudbay Minerals responsible for shootings and gang rapes committed by their subsidiary in El Estor, Guatemala. After the ruling by a Candadian judge, the cases can move forward in Canadian courts. Lawyers for the plaintiffs, 13 Mayan Guatemalans, said the decision is a “wake-up call” for Canadian companies about their responsibilities at foreign mining projects. Continue reading

Weekly News Round-up, April 6-15

Displaced Polochic Families Deliver Petition to Pérez Molina

Representatives of the over 700 families from the Polochic Valley who have been displaced since 2011 requested a meeting with President Pérez Molina Thursday to present a petition. The petition, signed by 80,000 people from 50 different countries, asks the government to comply with its promise to find land for the displaced families and to take steps to implement the precautionary measures granted by the Inter-American Commission to alleviate their precarious living situation. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has also asked that the State of Guatemala guarantee respect for the rights of the evicted Polochic families.

26 Arrests in San Rafael Las Flores
On April 11, 26 community members who were part of the peaceful resistance movement in San Rafael Las Flores were arrested. Early reports suggests the arrests were illegal because the protesters were on private property with permission of the owner, and the authorities entered without a warrant. Furthermore, the accused were injured during the arrest and then forced to wait seven hours before seeing a judge.

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January News Round Up

Ríos Montt on trial for genocide and crimes against humanity
The trial against former head of state Ríos Montt and along with former general José Rodríguez, began on January 30th, two days after Judge Ángel Gálvez announced his decision to try the two men for genocide and crimes against humanity. The much-anticipated announcement drew a large crowd which included many survivors of the armed conflict as well as journalists, retired military personnel, and human rights activists. The decision was hailed as a victory for the victims of one of the most violent conflicts in Central America.

Spanish delegation comments on conflict in Santa Cruz Barillas
A group of Spanish representatives on a mission to investigate human rights in Guatemala held a press conference last week to talk about several of the cases they looked into during their visit. One of the cases that they highlighted was the conflict in Santa Cruz Barillas, Huehuetenango surrounding the dam proposed by the Hidro Santa Cruz energy company. One Spanish representative expressed concern for the human rights violations there including the assassination of a community member, illegally long detentions of political prisoners and the absence of a means of democratic communication between the community members and authorities. Another representative, Josep Nuet, expressed a desire for Hidro Santa Cruz to start the project anew, this time with the input of the community.

Limitations on the Inter-American Court of Human Rights repealed
The executive branch announced on January 17th Government Agreement number 30-2013, which repealed an earlier decision to not recognize the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on violations prior to February, 1987. The original agreement (number 370), which was announced on January 2nd, was met with much criticism, forcing the President to suspend it the next day.

An analysis of President Perez Molina’s first year in office
During his first year in office, President Pérez Molina launched the Cero Hambre and Bolsa Segura programs to combat malnutrition and hunger. His critics allege that these programs have not yet reached much of the at-risk population and have not done enough to break the cycle of poverty. Credit should be given to the attorney general, police commissioner, and interior minister, and the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala for the improvements in the murder rate as well as the security situation. “In 2012, Guatemala recorded 5,174 homicides, approximately 500 fewer than in Colom’s last year, thereby reducing the country’s murder rate from 39 to 34 per 100,000. However, while the government’s increased reliance on the military and mano dura policies has not led to an increase in homicides, there is good reason to be concerned with the government’s increasing reliance on the military to perform acts better suited for police.” writes Mike Allison. Continue reading