Guatemalan Human Rights Defenders Unit gets a Human Rights Award from the Guatemala Human Rights Commission

December 5, 2013

The Alice Zachmann Human Rights Defenders Award recognizes an individual, organization or community from Guatemala who has demonstrated a commitment to the defense of human rights through non-violent methods, and for which he/she has been exposed to threats, violence and/or other attacks. The award serves as a means to highlight the struggle of the recipient on an international level and represents a commitment by GHRC to provide ongoing support.

The award giver, the Guatemala Human Rights Commission [GHRC] presented the 2013 Award to the Guatemalan Human Rights Defenders Unit (UDEFEGUA)

2013 Human Rights Defenders AwardUDEFEGUA was founded in 2000 by a coalition of NGOs in order to provide holistic support to the men and women who defend human rights in Guatemala. The organization was created as a response to the need to protect increasingly vulnerable human rights defenders, so that they could carry out their work with dignity and without fear. Since its inception, UDEFEGUA has expanded the services it offers to meet the growing challenges of doing human rights work in an increasingly hostile political context. Its team of 25 employees investigates and denounces threats and attacks against defenders, provides psychological counseling, facilitates security workshops, offers legal accompaniment, and helps strengthen the skills of human rights activists through networking and training.

UDEFEGUA constantly monitors the overall human rights situation in Guatemala and publishes monthly analysis and yearly reports, as well as thematic investigations on subjects such as criminalization, the psycho-social cost of human rights work, and the impacts on children of human rights defenders.

In her acceptance speech, Claudia Samayoa characterized the group as a support team for at-risk human rights defenders:

But most importantly we are a team of “firefighters” rushing to be present with human rights defenders in their moments of need… whether they are submitting an official document, looking for a missing person, identifying a corpse, imprisoned or awaiting release, attending a medical appointment, evaluating risk, or facing the justice system. We accompany their families in times of uncertainty and fear, and make sure that their children are not left unprotected. We stand in solidarity with defenders, be it to mourn a defeat or celebrate a victory.

– See more at:

GHRC’s 2013 Human Rights Defenders Award Presented to UDEFEGUA « Guatemala Human Rights Commission.

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