Protection International: Monitoring the State’s Duty to Guarantee the Exercise of the Defence of Human Rights in Guatemalan Municipalities

The defence of human rights in Guatemala is currently going through one of its worst crises since the processes of democratic transition and peace agreements in the early 1990s. Threats, physical and social media attacks, coupled with undue criminalisation against independent justice operators, human rights defenders (including land and environmental defenders), social communicators and journalists, have reached their peak during the years of Alejandro Giammattei’s government (2020-2022).

The situation is similar in the rest of the countries in the Central American region, which, unlike Nicaragua, have in common the fact that they have had international commissions to support the criminal prosecution of cases of corruption and serious human rights violations in recent years. However, in spite of the progress achieved in justice, there is a serious problem in common, as a consequence of the achievements obtained in criminal cases of high social connotation, and that is that, at present, anyone who has supported the fight against impunity, anyone who is critical and monitors the governments in power, that is, anyone who opposes the formal and de facto powers, is exposed and runs the risk of being arbitrarily detained and prosecuted.

The undue criminalisation is evidence of the lack of independence of the justice institutions, given that they are now complacent towards the traditional political class and those linked to organised crime who, with the consent of the economic elites, have implemented punitive power and authoritarian actions against those who oppose them, a situation that affects the weak democracy and puts at risk the advances brought about by the commitments made and the agenda of the Peace Accords.

Most of the victims of the undue criminalisation or lawfare undertaken by the Guatemalan penal system are judicial officials, human rights defenders and social communicators, making it clear that, with the co-optation of the state, the aim is not only to guarantee impunity for the traditional power structures, but also to persecute and punish those who played an important role in the fight against impunity in the country.

In this context, we present the study “Estado de situación con enfoque multifactorial sobre el deber estatal de garantizar el ejercicio de defensa de los derechos humanos en los municipios de Santa María de Nebaj, Sayaxché y San Marcos“, which contains important information on the factors that influence the role played by indigenous women defenders and the state intervention in affecting their fundamental rights, carried out by Protection International in Guatemala, in conjunction with the organisation CISV and Asoremi (Asociación Red Red Organizaciones de Mujeres Ixhiles).

Find the original publication and more extensive documents here in Spanish (Protection International).