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    May 10, 2013

    The conviction of Guatemala’sex-president General Efraín Ríos Montt for genocide and crimes against humanity during his time in office is a historic step in the nation’s long struggle for justice, Amnesty International said today.

    Gen.Efraín Ríos Montt was convicted and sentenced to 80 years for his role as the intellectual author of the killings of 1,771 individuals and the forced displacement of tens of thousands more from the Ixil triangle region of southern Quiché department in 1982 and 1983 in the midst of Guatemala’s internal armed conflict.

    Gen.José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez, General Ríos Montt’s head of intelligence during his time in power, was found not guilty on the same charges.

    “With this conviction,Guatemala leads by example in a region where entrenched impunity for past crimes sadly remains the norm,” said Sebastian Elgueta, Guatemala Researcher at Amnesty International.

    May 10, 2013

    The verdict in the genocide trial against former Guatemalan military ruler Efraín Ríos Montt is expected later today on Friday, 10 May.

    He faces up to 75 years of imprisonment on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity for a series of massacres committed by the Guatemalan military in March 1982 till August 1983 in the area known as Ixil triangle. It was one of the bloodiest chapters in the country’s internal armed conflict, which lasted 36 years and resulted in the killings or disappearances of more than 200,000 people – many of them indigenous.

    Sebastian Elgueta, Amnesty International’s researcher on Guatemala will be available over the weekend to comment on the verdict of this historic trial, the first to hold a Central American  former head of state to account for gross human rights violations.

    For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations, 416-363-9933 ext 332

    Background Information:

    May 08, 2013
    The trial against former Guatemalan leader General José Efraín Rios Montt for genocide during his time in office has restarted. Here are 10 facts that show why the Central American country’s dark past is still relevant today.

    1. Guatemala is located in Central America, bordering Mexico. Around half of its population is indigenous, including many Maya peoples. The country is one of the most unequal in the region – with high rates of illiteracy, infant mortality and malnutrition, particularly in the countryside. Organized crime and violence are also widespread.

    2. Between 1960 and 1996, Guatemala was immersed in a bloody internal armed conflict that pitted the army against guerrilla groups. More than 200,000 men, women and children were murdered or disappeared during this 36-year-long war, most of them were indigenous.

    May 08, 2013
    In advance of the Annual General Meeting of Tahoe Resources to be held on 9 May, 2013 in Vancouver, Amnesty International urges the company to acknowledge mounting human rights concerns associated with its Escobal Silver Mine project in Guatemala.  Amnesty International further calls on the company’s investors to recognize the impact on human rights of the Escobal project and, in turn, insist that the company take immediate corrective action consistent with international human rights standards.
    May 01, 2013

    The Salvadoran authorities must urgently comply with a sentence issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights this Monday, by providing a seriously ill pregnant woman with vital medical treatment within 72 hours.

    Beatriz, a 22-year-old woman, is four-and-a-half months pregnant and has been diagnosed with a number of severe illnesses, including lupus and kidney disease. Doctors have also confirmed that the foetus she is carrying is missing a large part of its brain and skull, which means it is expected to die before it is born, or within a few hours or days after birth.

    The doctors have also stated that Beatriz could die if she continues with the pregnancy, but they have not provided her with the treatment she needs as they fear that if they interrupt the pregnancy they could be prosecuted under the strict laws which criminalize abortion in the country.

    "Beatriz's life is hanging in the balance because of unjustifiable delays on behalf of the authorities," said Esther Major, Amnesty International's researcher on Central America.

    April 19, 2013

    The decision to annul the Guatemalan genocide trial of Generals Ríos Montt and Rodríguez Sánchez must be overturned urgently or risk strengthening impunity and weakening the rule of law, Amnesty International said today.

    According to Guatemalan law, the decision will stand unless it can be reversed in the next 10 days.

    “This trial represented a hope of justice for victims of crimes against humanity and crimes under international law in Guatemala,” said Sebastian Elgueta, researcher on Guatemala at Amnesty International.

    “The consequences of this decision may set back the clock in Guatemala to a time when impunity was the norm for those types of crimes.”

    The trial of General José Efrain Ríos Montt, former head of state between 1982 and 1983, and his former head of intelligence General Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez, for charges of genocide and crimes against humanity opened on 19 March 2013. More than 100 witnesses and experts have already testified in court and the trial was in its final days.

    April 17, 2013

    Great news! After Guatemalan Vice President Roxana Baldetti received over 1,000 letters from around the world on Maria Isabel Franco's case, she has promised to act in support of the murder investigation - and on violence against women in Guatemala more generally.

    Maria's case was featured in Amnesty International's worldwide letter-writing event Write for Rights, held every year on December 10th, International Human Rights Day.

    "As a state we still have some work to do, but as Vice President I am committed to the goal that, by the end of the administration of President Otto Perez Molina, the conditions of the Guatemalan population - and especially women and girls - will have been significantly improved."

    March 18, 2013

    The trial of Guatemala’s ex-president General Efraín Ríos Montt and his former head of military intelligence Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez -due to start on Tuesday 19 March – marks a long-awaited opportunity for justice for the victims of crimes against humanity committed against Guatemala’s Mayan communities, Amnesty International said today.

    In 1999, a UN-backed truth commission found that during Guatemala’s 36-year internal armed conflict (1960-1996) some 200,000 people - over 80% of whom were of Mayan descent - were killed or disappeared, and that genocide had occurred.

    Montt and Sánchez, are to be tried as the intellectual authors of the killings of 1,771 individuals and the forced displacement of tens of thousands more from the Ixil triangle region of southern Quiché department.

    “This moment is truly historic because it is the first time that a former head of state in Central America is to be put on trial for crimes under international law,” said Guadalupe Marengo, director of Amnesty International’s Americas Programme.

    January 29, 2013

    Yesterday’s ruling that General Efraín Ríos Montt and his former head of military intelligence, General José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez, should stand trial for the massacre of almost two thousand people in the 1980s is a crucial step towards justice, truth and reparation, Amnesty International said today.

    Ríos Montt, who held power from March 1982 to August 1983, and Rodríguez Sánchez will be tried for their alleged responsibility over the deaths of the mainly Mayan villagers in a series of massacres during that period.

    “This decision strengthens justice in Guatemala, as accountability for past crimes begins to emerge,” said Sebastian Elgueta, Amnesty International researcher on Central America.

    “What is important is to ensure justice, truth and reparation for the families and victims of thousands of other human rights violations.

    A 1999 UN-backed truth commission found that during Guatemala’s 36-year internal armed conflict (1960-1996) some 200,000 people were killed or disappeared.

    January 17, 2013

    Authorities in Guatemala are putting the lives of women at risk by systematically failing to protect them and ensure those responsible for the hundreds of killings that take place each year face justice, Amnesty International said today after it emerged two young girls and two women had been brutally slain.

    On 16 January, the bodies of the two girls were found in a street in Guatemala City. Two other women were also found dead, in separate locations.

    Around 560 women were murdered in Guatemala in 2012, 631 in 2011 and 695 in 2010, according to official figures.

    Less than 4 per cent of all homicide cases result in perpetrators being convicted. Guatemala’s congress passed a law in 2008 that typified various crimes of violence against women and established special tribunals and sentencing guidelines, but this has not stemmed the violence.

    “There is no let-up in the cases of killings of women and girls recorded every month, despite the national scandal this has become for Guatemala,” said Sebastian Elgueta, Guatemala researcher at Amnesty International.

    Please join Amnesty International, Breaking the Silence, the Mount Allison University Department of Modern Languages, and the United Church Mining the Connections Committee in welcoming Sister Maudilia Lopez Cardona from Guatemala as she speaks about the legacy of Goldcorp’s Marlin mine in western Guatemala.  After more than a decade of gold mining the mine is now closed and affected communities are demanding that the Canadian company and the Guatemalan State be held accountable for future human rights and environmental harms. Maudilia will discuss ways in which Canadians  can respond.


    Please join Amnesty International, MiningWatch, Nobel Women’s Initiative, PSAC Social Justice Fund, and GRITE in welcoming Sister Maudilia Lopez Cardona and Aniseto Lopez Diaz as they speak about the legacy of Goldcorp’s Marlin mine in western Guatemala. After more than a decade of gold mining the mine is now closed, and affected communities are demanding that the Canadian company and the Guatemalan State be held accountable for future human rights and environmental harms.


    Sister Maudilia Lopez Cardona

    Aniseto Lopez Diaz, FREDEMI

    Tara Scurr, Amnesty International Canada

    Jen Moore, MiningWatch Canada

    For questions and accessibility concerns, please contact



    Join us for an inspiring panel discussion with:


    Luis Fernando García Monroy

    Luis Fernando was shot and seriously injured in 2013 by security guards employed by Tahoe Resources, a Canadian company, at its mine in Santa Rosa, Guatemala. He went on to co-found JODVID (Jovenes en Defensa de la Vida - Youth in Defence of Life), an organization that uses the arts to communicate the importance of protecting the environment from the harms of large-scale industrial activities, including mining.

    Felipe Benítez

    Felipe is a Lenca agro ecologist in Honduras, member of the Lenca Indigenous Council of Gualinga and the coordinator of the Independent Indigenous Lenca Movement of La Paz (MILPAH). Felipe's nephew was killed and other members of MILPAH have suffered violent attacks in response to efforts to defend the right to decision-making about indigenous territory, as well as opposition to hydro-electric projects they believe will have a destructive impact.

    Félix Antonio Molina

    TAKE ACTION GUATEMALA: STOP TARGETTING LAND DEFENDERS! Tell Guatemala's Attorney General that land defenders deserve protection, not prison, for their efforts to protect water and crops. 

    Throughout Mining Justice Month, from May 18-31, please join Amnesty in welcoming Sister Maudilia López Cardona who will speak to audiences in Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick about the legacy of Goldcorp’s Marlin mine in western Guatemala.  She will be joined in Ottawa by community leader Aniseto López Díaz for a public event. The two human rights defenders will speak about building hope and resilience after more than a decade of resisting a major Canadian gold mine. Indigenous peoples living near the mine are bracing themselves for a new wave of economic, environmental, labour and social impacts now that the mine is closing. Maudilia and Aniseto will discuss ways in which Canadians and Amnesty members can support them.

    Join us for public events in:

    >> Toronto, May 22nd 

    >> Sackville, May 24th 


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