Guatemala: Lawyer of Xinca People under threat
Quelvin Jiménez via Twitter
Quelvin Jiménez has recently received threats to his life. He has been targeted with smear campaigns, intimidation and surveillance for defending the rights to land and territory of the Xinca People in the context of mining activities in the south of Guatemala.
The latest threats include phone calls indicating he was to die, the presence of an armed man near his home, and an attempt of intimidation as he approached his house on 6 May. The man seen near his house chased Quelvin on a motorcycle attempting to make his vehicle slow down. In late April, he was alerted to a plan to kill him. The investigations of previous attacks are still pending and the police have yet to enforce security measures ordered by the Public Prosecutor’s office to protect him.
On 23 June, a group of people carrying small arms and machetes disrupted a meeting of the Xinca Indigenous People authorities in Jumaytepeque, Santa Rosa (Southwest Guatemala). They verbally threatened and beat some of the participants. Quelvin reported threats against him and gunshots. He escaped but a vehicle stopped him. Three people got out and accused him of attacking them. Police took them all to a municipal police station in Barberena. Hours later, he was released, free of charges.
On 24 June, neighbours warned Quelvin that a vehicle had been circling his house. He called the police to request protection but was told they did not have patrols available.
Amnesty International urges the Public Prosecutor’s office to carry out investigation into all the attacks and provide protection for Quelvin Jiménez.
Please send a tweet or email to the Attorney General. (There is no postal service into Guatemala.)
- Start with Dear Attorney General Porras and a sentence about yourself to make your message unique.
- Express concern for the safety of the lawyer of the Xinca People, Quelvin Jiménez, given the number and variety of threats against him for his work in defense of the land and territory of the Xinca People.
- Urge her to conduct a prompt, independent, effective and impartial investigation into all the threats and attacks against Quelvin Jiménez, and to bring all those responsible to justice.
- Insist that she guarantees the protection of Quelvin Jiménez by the police, in accordance with his wishes and needs.
Consuelo Porras, Attorney General for Guatemala
His Excellency Carlos Humberto Jiménez Licona
Ambassador for the Republic of Guatemala
130 Albert Street, Suite 1010
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5G4
Fax: 613 233 0135
Phone: 613 233 7237
The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne
Minister of Foreign Affairs
111 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6
Postage: None required
Fax: 613 996 9607
Phone: 613 992 5234
On 2 May 2013, the government of Guatemala declared a state of emergency in and around San Rafael las Flores, a town some 90 kilometres from the capital, following a series of violent incidents around the mining operation of Minera San Rafael, a subsidiary of the Canada and US-based Tahoe Resources Inc. In January 2013, unknown armed men attacked the mine site resulting in the deaths of two security guards and another person, presumed to be part of the group attacking the site. For more information, see: Mining in Guatemala: Rights at risk (http://www.amnesty.ca/sites/amnesty/files/mining-in-guatemala-rights-at-risk-eng.pdf).
Members of the Centre for Environmental, Social and Legal Action (CALAS) who have previously defended the rights of communities affected by the San Rafael mining company have also reported reiterated acts of intimidation and harassment against them For more information see Urgent Action: Smear Campaign against Human rights defenders (https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/amr34/6680/2017/en/)
According to our research, human rights defenders in Guatemala carry out their activities in an extremely hostile environment, particularly those working on rights related to land, territory and the environment. They face continuous threats, intimidation and attacks. The Unit for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders in Guatemala (UDEFEGUA) reported 26 human rights defenders were killed in 2018. Defenders are also regularly targeted with smear campaigns aimed at stigmatizing and discrediting them by private actors and the Guatemalan authorities. The criminal justice system is regularly misused, defenders are falsely accused and prosecuted trying keep them silent and to break up movements and organizations. For more information, see the Amnesty International report “We are defending the land with our blood”: Defenders of the land, territory and environment in Honduras and Guatemala (https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/amr01/4562/2016/en/)
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