New report on Guatemala’s failure to protect Human Rights Defenders

November 23, 2013

A report issued on 18 November 18, 2013 by the American Bar Association, Georgetown Human Rights Institute, and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, entitled “Tilted Scales: Social Conflict and Criminal Justice in Guatemala” describes how human rights defenders, civil society organizations, and indigenous community groups in Guatemala operate in a dangerous environment where they live under constant threat.  “The Guatemalan judicial system is being utilized to harass and intimidate human rights defenders, especially in the context of disputes between businesses and indigenous communities over property rights and land use” said Santiago A. Canton, Director of Partners for Human Rights at the RFK Center. “Human rights defenders and indigenous leaders are targeted with threats and violence, and find themselves faced with false criminal charges, while their perpetrators go unpunished.

Attorneys and civil society leaders reported that disputes between indigenous communities and extractive companies resulted from the governments failure to hold culturally appropriate, prior consultations in good faith as required under international law. The report also questions the compliance of multilateral banks and multinational corporations with international standards.  RFK Center President Kerry Kennedy added that “Many defenders report that ex-military officers who committed abuses during the internal armed conflict are now intimidating locals and committing crimes with impunity in the communities where they work.” The authors explain that defenders must contend with widely published derogatory and inflammatory statements against them, in addition to the possibility of being physically attacked or falsely accused of a crime. “Peaceful human rights activists have been labeled as terrorists by prominent commentators, including leaders affiliated with business interests” said Katharine Valencia co-author of the report. The report emphasizes the Guatemalan governments obligations under the American Convention on Human Rights to protect the physical integrity of citizens; guarantee the independence of judicial authorities; thoroughly and impartially investigate allegations of criminal activity; and protect against arbitrary detention and prolonged, unjustified pretrial detention. The report also stresses that prior to the development of projects in indigenous territories, the state must engage in good-faith, culturally appropriate, and fully informed consultations with affected communities. Finally, the report calls upon extractive industries and financial institutions to justly compensate communities that have been displaced or otherwise adversely impacted by business activity, and urges compliance with reparations agreements related to the internal armed conflict.

via New Report: Guatemala Must Immediately Protect Human Rights Defenders – The Paramus Post – Greater Paramus News and Lifestyle Webzine.

3 Responses to “New report on Guatemala’s failure to protect Human Rights Defenders”


  1. […] New report on Guatemala’s failure to protect Human Rights Defenders (thoolen.wordpress.com) […]


  2. […] New report on Guatemala’s failure to protect Human Rights Defenders (thoolen.wordpress.com) […]


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