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THE IACHR EXPRESSES its CONCERN FOR INSECURITY of citizens
AND HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN GUATEMALA
Washington, March 21st, 2007 – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) express its deep concern for recent developments in Guatemala. These developments include: a new outbreak of attacks against human rights defenders, the involvement of State officers in organized crime activity, with impunity. These developments illustrate the need to adjust and to strengthen the democratic institutions to guarantee the defense and protection of human rights.
During its 127th ordinary period of sessions, the IACHR received information about the situation of human rights defenders; the impunity and denial of justice; and extrajudicial executions of stigmatized persons in Guatemala. The IACHR also met with representatives of the State of Guatemala with the purpose of gathering information on recent incidents of senior officers of the State being involved in organized crime.. The Commission also held work meetings on several cases pending before the IACHR. Based on the information received, the IACHR makes the following observations.
Human Rights Defenders
The Inter-American Commission has been informed, both by the civil society and high officers of the State that during the last months there has been a new outbreak of attacks against human rights defenders, which include murders, threats and serious acts of violence, harassment and robbery of work materials. One of the factors mentioned as a reason for the increase of violence against human rights defenders is their participation in the ongoing judicial prosecution for genocide and crimes against humanity.
The Inter-American Commission reiterates the duty of the State to adopt all necessary measures to stop the attacks and remove obstacles that jeopardize the work of human rights defenders In this regard; it is of paramount importance that the body responsible for investigating these attacks takes immediate action to stop them and to punish those responsible for carrying them out
Assassination of Salvadorian Deputies
and the Top-security Prison
On February 19th of 2007, Salvadorian Deputies of the Central-American Parliament and William Pichinte, Eduardo D´Aubuisson, José Ramón González, were assassinated together with their driver, Gerardo Napoleón Ramírez. Subsequently, on February 21st of 2007, four police agents were arrested on suspicion of these murders. They are Luis Arturo Herrera López, Chief of the Organized Crime Unit of the Criminal Investigation Direction (DINC) of the National Police (PNC); the officer José Korki López Arreaga; and the agents José Adolfo Gutiérrez and Marvin Langen Escobar Méndez, all or them from the DINC Three days later, on February 25th, these police agents were slaughtered while they were imprisoned in a top-security prison called “El Boquerón”. In response to these acts, and with the aim of protecting the lives of potential witnesses, as well as preserving relevant material evidence, the Inter-American Commission recently issued precautionary measures in favor of a person who is in prison and who allegedly took part in the incident of the Salvadorian Parliamentarians.
The Commission is acutely concerned about the apparent links between the Guatemalan national police and crime activities, organized and otherwise. The IACHR is concerned as well by the information received which suggest that the serious crimes committed in the prison of “El Boquerón” could hardly have been perpetrated without, at least, the tolerance or approval of some State officers.
It is crucial that the State undertakes all necessary actions in order to investigate these crimes and identify and sanction those responsible, and adopts urgent measures for the adjustment of the police institution and the guaranty of impartiality and objectivity of the investigations.
International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG)
For many years, discussions have taken place about the implementation of an international commission against impunity. As part of that effort, on December 12th of 2006, the Government of Guatemala executed an agreement with the United Nations for the creation of an International Commission Against the Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). This Commission is to be chaired by a commissioner assigned by the UN General Secretary and further comprise non-Guatemalan former prosecutors, whose main functions will be to determine the existence of illegal security forces and clandestine corps; to collaborate with the State of Guatemala for their disbandment; and to recommend the adoption of public policies for the eradication of these illegal bodies.
The Inter-American Commission wishes to express its support of this initiative and hopes that is will come into operation as soon as possible. The Commission considers that this initiative will contribute to the investigation of crimes and human rights violations perpetrated by illegal security corps and clandestine bodies, and to compliance by the State of its obligation to prosecute and punish those responsible.