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Guatemala

    October 09, 2018
    Jimmy Morales, President of Guatemala

    DOWNLOAD A PDF OF THE LETTER-WRITING ACTION HERE

    President Jimmy Morales is trying to end the fight against impunity in Guatemala by revoking the mandate of the UN Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). The country's Constitutional Court has ordered the President and high-level functionaries to solve the current crisis through political dialogue with the United Nations and to allow the Commission's head, Iván Velásquez, back into the country. In the meantime, this important anti-corruption effort is hanging by a thread. Canada is a major supporter of CICIG, donating millions of dollars to the Commission. Its time to speak up and tell Canada that you are deeply concerned about the political crisis unfolding in Guatemala. 

    September 18, 2018

    Following the ruling of the Guatemalan Constitutional Court ordering President Jimmy Morales and high-ranking immigration officials to allow the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG by its initials in Spanish) entry to the country, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International, said:

    “The International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala is an unprecedented initiative in the region in the fight against corruption and impunity, which continue to plague the region and lead to human rights violations being committed. In hindering the work of the CICIG the government is putting the sustainability and operations of institutions at all levels at great risk, affecting the state’s ability to fully guarantee the Guatemalan people’s right to exercise their human rights.

    “The Guatemalan Constitutional Court’s order is clear. High-ranking public officials, including the president, must comply with the ruling allowing the re-entry of the CICIG Commissioner, Iván Velásquez. Failure to do so would lead to autocracy and disregard for rule of law in the country.”

    September 11, 2018
    DOWNLOAD PDF OF UA 163/18 HERE

    Guatemala’s Congress is on the verge of passing a law to ban abortion, same-sex marriage and inclusive sex education. The bill 5272 “to protect family and life” directly threatens the rights of girls, women, and LGBTI people, their lives and their families.

    Congressman Aníbal Rojas Espino presented the bill 5272 to the Guatemala Congress on 26 April 2017, including 30,000 signatures of support gathered by the National Evangelical Coordinator. The bill received a favourable opinion from the Commission of Legislation and Constitutional Points and was then debated on 22 and 28 August 2018. It now needs a third reading in a plenary session where it could be voted and approved, which could take place in the next few days.

    August 01, 2018
    Photo credit: CODECA    DOWNLOAD PDF OF LATEST UPDATE OF UA 97 HERE

    Human rights defenders Florencio Pérez Nájera and Alejandro Hernández García from the Campesino Development Committee (Comité de Desarrollo Campesino, CODECA) were violently murdered on 4 June. On July 27, Juana Raymundo went missing. Neighbours discovered her body the following day. Authorities must end this wave of killings which add up to eight human rights defenders killed in Guatemala in less than three months. 

    June 12, 2018
    Solidarity image of members of CCDA

    Photo: Solidarity image, with members of CCDA.

    Attacks on defenders in Guatemala are rapidly escalating. In four short weeks seven human rights defenders have been killed. Three men from the Campesino Committee of the Highlands (CCDA) and four men from the Campesino Development Committee (CODECA) were violently murdered.

    It's important we call on authorities to stop this wave of killings - but also at times of crisis, the need to show meaningful solidarity with defenders becomes ever more necessary.

    Steps you can take to show solidarity

    1.      Write a message of solidarity and encouragement to show these brave activists that they are not alone or forgotten. The world is watching! You could make a card or drawing or simply hold up a sign as in the examples below. Take a close-up photo of yourself holding your solidarity message in English or Spanish and share it directly with the CCDA or CODECA:

    June 11, 2018

    Guatemalan authorities must take immediate and effective measures to protect human rights defenders and launch thorough, impartial and independent investigations into all attacks against them, Amnesty International said today, following the killing of seven human rights defenders in the space of a month.

    “Guatemala’s brave human rights defenders are being killed with impunity on a terrifyingly regular basis. The authorities must take urgent action to protect them from these savage and calculated attacks before more lives are lost,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “Instead of stigmatizing and insulting those who dedicate their lives to the defence of their land and the environment, the authorities must publicly recognize the importance of their work and ensure that those responsible for the attacks against them are brought to justice.”

    The seven people killed in the last four weeks were all involved in defending their communities’ land, territory or the environment, and they were all members of the Campesino Development Committee (CODECA) or the Altiplano Campesino Committee (CCDA).

    June 06, 2018

    Amnesty International is deeply concerned for the safety of land defenders in Guatemala. Six defenders were brutally killed during the last two weeks of May and 12 defenders have lost their lives since January.  It appears that a vicious new wave of attacks against land and water defenders is underway in Guatemala.  

    Heightening our worry is the use of language by Guatemala’s President Jimmy Morales to discredit and put down organizations that are working to protect land and environment, such as the Committee for Campesino Development (CODECA) or the Campesino Committee of the Highlands (CCDA).

    Sister Maudilia Lopez Cardona, a Catholic sister and land defender from San Miguel Ixtahuacán, near Goldcorp’s Marlin mine, reminded Canadians during a delegation to Canada last month that calling human rights activists names, such as ‘anti-development’, ‘eco-terrorists’, or ‘anti-patriotic’ undermines their legitimate concerns and puts them at high risk of attack.

    April 25, 2018

    The efforts of the Attorney General’s Office to fight rampant impunity and protect human rights in Guatemala must continue and even increase, Amnesty International said today, ahead of the appointment of the new Attorney General and Head of the Public Prosecutor’s Office.

    “President Jimmy Morales must appoint an Attorney General who guarantees prompt and effective justice for all, and who complies effectively with Guatemala’s international human rights obligations,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “This is a critical moment in Guatemala’s modern history. There cannot be any backwards steps in the fight against impunity which the country has been tackling.”

    President Morales is responsible for choosing between six candidates who hope to assume the post of Attorney General and Head of the Public Prosecutor’s Office for the next four years. The decision must be made by 17 May at the latest, when the current Attorney General Thelma Aldana Hernández’s term comes to an end.

    February 22, 2018
    Amnesty International publishes State of the World’s Human Rights report for 2017 to 2018 “Last year our world was immersed in crises, with prominent leaders offering us a nightmarish vision of a society blinded by hatred and fear. This emboldened those who promote bigotry, but it inspired far more people to campaign for a more hopeful future,” says Salil Shetty, head of Amnesty International

    The world is reaping the terrifying consequences of hate-filled rhetoric that threatens to normalize massive discrimination against marginalized groups, Amnesty International warned today as it launched its annual assessment of human rights.

    Nevertheless, the organization found that a growing movement of both first-time and seasoned activists campaigning for social justice provides real hope of reversing the slide towards oppression.

    The report, The State of the World’s Human Rights, covers 159 countries and delivers the most comprehensive analysis of the state of human rights in the world today.

    February 21, 2018
    J. J. Bowlen Catholic Junior High School

    Rafael Maldonado is a passionate advocate for justice, Indigenous rights and a healthy environment. He defends people who are attacked or criminalized for trying to protect their lands and waters from unwanted mining, hydro, or agricultural projects. In Santa Rosa, a rich agricultural region of south-eastern Guatemala, he defends the rights of people who worry that a Canadian silver mine is polluting and drying up their water sources. Several people in the communities surrounding the mine have been killed, shot, attacked, threatened and thrown in jail on false charges. 

    Because of his work at the Centre for Social, Environmental and Legal Action, to defend their rights and support their cause, he has been threatened, his colleagues shot, robbed or killed, and has had shots fired into a car outside his house. Amnesty International is very concerned about his safety. 

    January 18, 2018
    Gathering sugar cane in field

    Ronal David Barillas Díaz was gunned down on January 9th in Guatemala.

    January 17, 2018

    Ronal David Barillas Díaz, a community leader and human rights defender was killed on the morning of 9 January in Taxisco, Santa Rosa, Guatemala. His attackers got out of a vehicle, walked to the newspaper and food stall where he worked and shot him at least six times, before fleeing the scene.

    Amnesty International utterly condemns this attack and urges the Guatemalan authorities to initiate a thorough, independent and impartial investigation into the death of the human rights defender and to put in place, without delay, a comprehensive public policy for the protection of human rights defenders in the country.

    December 01, 2017

    Last month, Amnesty International Canada's Tara Scurr and Kathy Price joined a delegation of Amnesty colleagues from Spain, Sweden, Mexico and the United States for a research and solidarity mission to Guatemala and Honduras. Tara reports from their meetings with human rights defenders and officials in Guatemala.  

    Fortified with strong, sweet coffee after a pre-dawn flight from Honduras to Guatemala, our delegation listened intently as a full room of international and Guatemalan civil society organizations methodically unpacked the situation facing human rights defenders in Guatemala. 

    November 03, 2017

    By Kathy Price, campaigner responsible for work on human rights defenders in Latin America

    From November 5-12, an Amnesty International mission is visiting Guatemala and Honduras to send a clear message: land and water defenders need protection NOW. 

    My colleague, Tara Scurr, and I will join Amnesty International campaigners from Sweden, Spain, USA and our regional office in Mexico to meet with human rights defenders, victims and government authorities, as well as Embassy staff representing the European Union, Canada and the US.

    We'll be handing over more than 40,000 petition signatures from Amnesty supporters across Canada to urgently call on the governments of Honduras and Guatemala to address this crisis. These signatures communicate a strong message of concern from Canada that we hope will have an impact, together with the signatures gathered in other countries.

    September 20, 2017
    DOWNLOAD PDF HERE

    Guatemala is a country rich in minerals such as gold, silver and iron. Companies both inside and outside the country want those riches. 

    Sometimes the companies don’t ask permission before they start taking the minerals. Sometimes their operations destroy the forests and farmland, and pollute the rivers.

    Defenders of water and land need help to protect their right to a healthy environment. 

    One person they can count on is Rafael Maldonado. He runs an organization called CALAS (the Centre for Environmental, Social and Legal Action).

    But not everyone respects the important work that Rafael and members of CALAS do. 

    They have been threatened in social media posts and in newspaper articles. The threats said they would be killed if they continue their work. 

    They have been threatened at work too, and even at home. Last November, someone shot and killed a man who worked at CALAS. And last April, someone fired shots outside Rafael’s house. 

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