Thursday, July 31, 2014

Court rules that Guatemala must recognize results of community consultations

In an historic resolution, a Guatemalan Appeals Court ruled last week that the government must take into account the right to free, prior and informed consent when granting mining licenses on the lands of indigenous communities.

The ruling came in response to a legal action presented by the Sipakapense People's Council in March 2014, arguing that the Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM) failed to consider the results of a 2005 community consultation before granting the "Los Chocoyos" mining license to Entre Mares de Guatemala S.A., a subsidiary of Canadian mining company Goldcorp Inc. The 2005 referendum in Sipakapa overwhelming rejected mega-development projects on their territories, including mining, by a 99% margin.

The Sipakapense People's Council at a press conference after the Constitutional
Court ruled in their favor.
Photo: Consejo del Pueblo Maya

In their ruling, the court cited Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization (ILO 169), which grants indigenous communities the right of consultation before mega-development projects are constructed on their traditional lands. This international convention has been a vital resource for communities in Guatemala organizing in defense of their territories, especially when domestic law and the Guatemalan government has failed to provide legal pathways to reclaim rights to life and territory.

Community members commemorate the 8th
anniversary of the community consultation in Sipakapa, on June 18 2013.
Photo: SaraGuate

Since Guatemala ratified ILO 169 in 1996, legal uncertainty regarding the implementation of rights outlined in the international accord has left its application in a state of ambiguity. In previous rulings, the Constitutional Court established the legality of community consultations, however ruled that due to a lack of regulation regarding their implementation, the results do not have to be respected by state institutions - a tenuous position, as laws regarding the right to community referendum are outlined at the municipal level. This most recent ruling appears to strengthen the domestic standing of ILO 169 by requiring the government to recognize the results of community referendum when considering the allocation of mining licenses, but again stops short of making the results legally binding.

None the less, the court's latest decision represents an important victory for communities organizing in defense of life and territory, providing them with an important legal precedent that can be used in future court cases to compel the government to recognize the collective rights of indigenous peoples as well as their traditional forms of organization and representation.

The hillsides of Sipakapa, in north-western Guatemala.
Photo: James Rodríguez,

In accordance with the Constitutional Court's ruling, the results of the 2005 referendum will be handed over to MEM to be taken into account in their re-evaluation of the Los Chocoyos mining license, a process which the Ministry has six months to complete. The court has additionally ordered that MEM factor Guatemala's obligations as a signatory to ILO 169 into their consideration.

According to the Sipakapense People's Council, the implications of these rulings can only mean that the Los Chocoyos mining license is illegal and void, and as such all mining activity on Sipakapense territory must be immediately halted. To read the statement released by the Sipakapenses People's Council regarding the Constitutional Court's ruling, click here (in Spanish).

Monday, July 28, 2014

Witnesses give pre-trial testimony for Military Diary case

On July 3 and 4, four witnesses presented their testimony to the High Risk Court "B" in anticipation of the upcoming trial in the Military Diary case. Although a trial date has yet to be set, the court allowed the elderly witnesses to give their testimony, which will be admitted as evidence when procedural issues, currently impeding the start of the trial, are resolved.

Witnesses in the Military Diary case provide their testimony to a Guatemalan court.
Photo: elPeriódico

The Military Diary was anonymously withdrawn from the Guatemalan Military Archives and handed over to the U.S. based The National Security Archive, in 1999. The document lists the names of 183 people who were captured and forcibly disappeared during the term of dictator Oscar Humberto Mejía Victores, from 1983-1985. Alongside each name is a picture of the victim and details of their disappearance, including the date and location of their kidnapping by state security forces, as well as personal information about the victim. The majority of the entries are classified as "code 300", which was terminology used by the military to express that the victim had been executed.

The 54 page document has been authenticated by both the National Security Archive and the Guatemalan government, and provides an in-depth look into the systematic human rights abuses committed by the state against the civilian population. The document demonstrates the government's use of forced disappearance, torture and extra-judicial killings as integral strategies in its counter-insurgency effort.

A page from the Military Diary.
Photo: Centro de Medios Independientes
The details outlined in the Military Diary was corroborated by the women who provided their testimonies earlier this month. One of the witnesses, Aura Elena Farfán, president of the Association of the Family Members of the Detained and Disappeared of Guatemala (FAMDEGUA), recounted the forced disappearance of her brother, Rubén Amílcar Farfán, which occurred on May 15, 1984. At the time of his disappearance, Rubén was a student at the San Carlos University in Guatemala City.

Another witness, 77 year old Antonia Chiquil Aguilar, testified to the disappearance of her son, Manuel Ismael Salanic Chiguil. According to Aguilar, on the night of February 14, 1984, unidentifiable men dressed in blue and green violently entered her house in Guatemala City. Aguilar was forced to watch as the men repeatedly hit her son and subjected him to electric shocks before kidnapping him. Manuel was never to be seen again.

Antonia Chiquil Aguilar relates her testimony to the court.
Photo: Centro de Medios Independientes

Pushing the search for justice in national courts forward is the 2012 ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which states that the Guatemalan government has the responsibility to conduct a full investigation into the forced disappearances listed in the Diary and prosecute those responsible.

NISGUA, through the Guatemalan Accompaniment Program and ACOGUATE, provides international human rights accompaniment to FAMDEGUA.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Retired military officials arraigned for atrocities at Sepur Zarco military base

Ex-colonel Esteelmer Reyes Girón and ex-military commissioner Heriberto Valdéz Asij were arraigned and ordered to pre-trial detention on June 23 by Tribunal "B" of the High Risk Crimes Court. The two will remain in prison while they await trial on charges of assassination, forced disappearance, and crimes against humanity.

Estelmer Reyes Girón and Heriberto Valdéz Asij in court on June 23.
Photo: CPR-Urbana
The accusations stem from acts ostensibly committed between 1982 and 1983, when Reyes served as colonel of the military base Sepur Zarco, located in eastern Guatemalan department of Izabal, with Valdez as his subordinate. Reyes is accused of the assassination of Dominga Coc and her two daughters, whose remains were exhumed and identified by specialists with the Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation. Valdez is accused of forcibly disappearing a group of campesinos in 1982, who were at the time involved in a prolonged struggle to obtain legal titles for their lands.

The two are additionally accused of holding at least 15 Q'eqchí women as sexual slaves in the military base between 1982 and 1988. The women were enslaved after their husbands were forcibly disappeared, and held hostage in the military base for at least 6 months.

In September 2012, these 15 women presented their testimony to the court in anticipation of the upcoming trial. The women, concerned for their personal security, wore scarves over their heads to protect their identities as they recounted their stories.

In September 2012 15 women presented their testimony to a Guatemalan court.
Photo: Sandra Sebastián

According to the Commission for Historical Clarification, sexual violence was a "widespread and systematic practice by state agents as part of the counterinsurgency strategy" during Guatemala's 36-year long internal armed conflict. The women of the Sepur Zarco case set global precedent when the trial opened, as the first time the crime of sexual slavery as a crime against humanity was tried in a national court.

Judge Miguel Ángel Alvez reads his order sentencing Valdéz and Reyes to await trail in prison. (En español)

After the court presented its order, the ex-military officials were immediately brought to the Mariscal Zavala Prison. The two men will remain imprisoned until the commencement of their trial, which is tentatively scheduled for the beginning of October.

NISGUA, through the Guatemalan Accompaniment and ACOGUATE, has accompanied the Sepur Zarco case since 2012.

Red del Proyecto de Acompañamiento de NISGUA denuncia intento de expulsar observadores internacionales

Toma acción inmediata para expresar su apoyo para el acompañamiento internacional en derechos humanos y los defensores de derechos humanos en Guatemala!

Favor de remitir la siguiente carta a las autoridades guatemaltecas y estadounidenses hoy! Descarga la carta aquí y mandarla con un mensaje personalizado a los embajadas, consulados y autoridades guatemaltecas. Se puede encontrar la lista de contactos aquí. También, favor de mandar la carta a sus representantes elegidos y no olvide pedirles seguimiento y una respuesta.

Estimado Sr. Julio Ligorría Carballido, Embajadador de Guatemala en los Estados Unidos,

Los abajo firmantes miembros de la Red en Solidaridad con el Pueblo de Guatemala (NISGUA) estamos preocupados con respecto a la decisión del gobierno de Guatemala de cancelar los permisos de residencia temporal de dos acompañantes internacionales representando Brigadas de Paz Internacional (PBI). La medida fue el resultado de dos resoluciones emitidos el 1 de julio del 2014 por el Ministerio del Interior y la Dirección de Servicios Migratorios. Las resoluciones no declararon las razones o los eventos que indujeron a la revocación de las visas, ni proveyeron evidencia para justificar la decisión.  Diez días después de emitir las resoluciones, y el mismo día en que los voluntarios estaban requeridos salir del país, el Ministro del Interior Mauricio López Bonilla informó a PBI que la revocación de los permisos fue anulado y que los acompañantes serán permitidos quedarse en el país. 

Denunciamos el intento socavar el acompañamiento y la observación internacional, esfuerzos implementados por PBI a petición de individuales, comunidades, y organizaciones bajo amenaza por el trabajo que realizan. Expresamos nuestra preocupación grave sobre la persecución de observadores  internacionales quienes proveen el acompañamiento de protección a defensores de derechos humanos y el uso de esta estrategia como medio de perjudicar la seguridad de defensores de derechos humanos en Guatemala. Reiteramos nuestra solidaridad con PBI Guatemala, una organización hermana que realiza un trabajo impecable en defensa de los derechos humanos. 

Por más de treinta anos, NISGUA y el Proyecto de Acompañamiento Internacional en Guatemala han jugado un papel importante en la creación y protección de espacios políticos para que los Guatemaltecos puedan defender sus derechos civiles, políticos, económicos, sociales, culturales, medioambientales, e indígenas. Voluntarios de NISGUA, como los de PBI, proveen observación imparcial, no-intervencionista y no-violenta en la cual los defensores de derechos humanos dependen para llevar a cabo su trabajo afrontando amenazas y ataques, reales y potenciales, en contra de los  derechos humanos. Este trabajo es reconocido en la Declaración de las Naciones Unidas sobre el Derecho y el Deber de los Individuos, los Grupos y las Instituciones de Promover y Proteger los Derechos Humanos y las Libertades Fundamentales Universalmente Reconocidos, la cual subraya el papel fundamental de la cooperación internacional para contribuir a la protección de los derechos humanos.

Solicitamos que usted exige al Presidente Otto Pérez Molina, el Ministerio del Interior y la Dirección de Servicios Migratorios que respectan los derechos de los guatemaltecos de llevar a cabo su trabajo en defensa de los derechos humanos y de solicitar la presencia de acompañamiento y observación internacional cuando ese trabajo está en riesgo. También pedimos que usted exige a la Dirección de Servicios Migratorios una aclaración sobre el proceso apresurado e irregular por el cual inicialmente se cancelaron los permisos. Finalmente, solicitamos que usted exige al Estado de Guatemala y sus instituciones correspondientes de cumplir con su obligación de proteger los defensores de derechos humanos, reconociendo que ellos tienen un papel fundamental a la construcción de una democracia participativa con respecto por el estado de derecho. Esperamos su respuesta y gracias por adelantado por su consideración de las solicitudes antedichas.


Red en Solidaridad con el Pueblo de Guatemala / NISGUA y la red del Proyecto de Acompañamiento Internacional en Guatemala:
Guatemala Accompaniment Project Council, USA
Copper Country Guatemala Accompaniment Project, MI
Kickapoo Guatemala Accompaniment Project, WI
Lakes Area Group Organizing for Guatemala (LAGOS), MN
Needham Congregational Church/Guatemala Partnership, MA
New Hampshire-Vermont Guatemala Accompaniment Project, NH-VT
Santa Elena Project of Accompaniment, OH
Task Force on the Americas, CA
Wyoming Guatemala Accompaniment Project, WY
Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington-Partners for Arlington and Guatemala, VA


Embajada de los Estados Unidos en Guatemala
Oficial de Asuntos Políticos Norman Galimba
Consulados guatemaltecos en los EE.UU.
Dirección de Servicios Migratorios de Guatemala
Director Manual Vicente Roca Menéndez
Presidente de la República de Guatemala
Otto Pérez Molina
Ministerio de Gobernación de Guatemala
Mauricio López Bonilla

Thursday, July 10, 2014

NISGUA's Accompaniment Project network denounces attempted expulsion of international observers

Take immediate action to express your support for international human rights accompaniment and human rights defenders in Guatemala!

Please forward the below letter to Guatemalan and US authorities today! Download the letter here and forward it with a personal note to embassies, consulates and Guatemalan officials. The contact list can be found here. Additionally, please consider sending the letter to your elected representative and make sure to follow up and request a response.

Dear Mr. Julio Ligorría Carballido, Guatemalan Ambassador to the United States,

The below signed members of the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA) write with deep concern regarding the decision of the Guatemalan government to cancel the temporary residence permits of two international accompaniers representing Peace Brigades International (PBI). The measure was the result of two resolutions issued on July 1, 2014 by Guatemala's Ministry of the Interior and Office of Migration Services. The resolutions did not state the reasons or events that led to the visa revocation, nor did they provide evidence to justify the decision. Ten days after the resolutions were issued, and on the same day the volunteers were required to leave the country, the Minister of the Interior Mauricio López Bonilla informed PBI that the revocations had been annulled and the accompaniers would be allowed to remain in the country.

We denounce the attempt to undermine international accompaniment and observation, efforts implemented by PBI at the request of individuals, communities, and organizations under threat. We express our grave concern about the targeting of international observers who provide human rights protective accompaniment and the use of these strategies as a means of undermining the security of human rights defenders in Guatemala. We reiterate our solidarity with PBI Guatemala, a sister organization carrying out impeccable work in defense of human rights.

For more than thirty years, NISGUA and the Guatemala Accompaniment Project have played a vital role in creating and protecting political space for Guatemalans to defend civil, political, economic, social, cultural, environmental, and indigenous rights. NISGUA volunteers, like those from PBI, provide the non-partisan, non-interventionist and non-violent observation that human rights defenders depend on to carry out their work in the face of actual and potential human rights threats and attacks. This work is recognized in the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which underscores the fundamental role of international cooperation in contributing to the protection of human rights. 

We request that you call on President Otto Pérez Molina, the Ministry of the Interior and the Office of Migration Services to respect the right of Guatemalans to carry out their work in defense of human rights and to request the presence of international accompaniment and observation when that work is at risk. We also ask that you demand clarification from the Office of Migration Services for the hasty and irregular process by which the permits were initially revoked. Finally, we ask that you call on the state of Guatemala and its corresponding institutions to uphold their obligation to protect human rights defenders, recognizing the critical role they play in the construction of a participatory democracy with respect for the rule of law. 

We look forward to your response and thank you in advance for your consideration of the above requests. 


Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala/NISGUA and the Guatemala Accompaniment Project network:
Guatemala Accompaniment Project Council, USA
Copper Country Guatemala Accompaniment Project, MI
Kickapoo Guatemala Accompaniment Project, WI
Lakes Area Group Organizing for Guatemala (LAGOS), MN
Needham Congregational Church/Guatemala Partnership, MA
New Hampshire-Vermont Guatemala Accompaniment Project, NH-VT
Santa Elena Project of Accompaniment, OH
Task Force on the Americas, CA
Wyoming Guatemala Accompaniment Project, WY
Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington-Partners for Arlington and Guatemala, VA 

United States Embassy in Guatemala
Political Affairs Officer Norman Galimba
Guatemalan Consulates in the United States
Guatemala Office of Migration Services
Director Manual Vicente Roca Menéndez
President of the Republic of Guatemala
Otto Pérez Molina
Guatemalan Ministry of the Interior
Mauricio López Bonilla

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Guatemalan organizations respond to the expulsion of two volunteers with Peace Brigades International (PBI)

On July 1, 2014, Guatemalan officials revoked the temporary residence permits of two human rights accompaniers with Peace Brigades International. In response to their expulsion, the Convergence for Human Rights (Convergencia por los Derechos Humanos), a network of Guatemalan social, environmental, human rights, feminist, campesino and territorial defense organizations released the following statement. Spanish version here.


The below-signed social, environmental, human rights, feminist, campesino and territorial defense organizations demand our right to defend human rights and count on solidarity accompaniment in doing so.

At the beginning of this month, two volunteers from Peace Brigades International (PBI) were ordered by Guatemalan migration authorities to leave the country. The notification was sent to both of the observers, but failed to include a description of the acts being applied to the articles of migration law that would imply their obligatory exit from the country.

In a misleading affirmation, the head of the Ministry of the Interior, retired coronal Héctor Mauricio López Bonilla, affirmed having seen videos in which the PBI observers appear throwing rocks at members of the National Civil Police (PNC). The action would have taken place during the violent eviction of the peaceful resistance at La Puya, which was carried out with an abuse of power and violence by the security forces under the command of the Minister [of the Interior]. Nevertheless, in the cancellation notice of their temporary residence permits, these acts are not explained; the same acts which, as it has been indicated, are false.

The actions perpetrated by the authorities of  the Ministry of the Interior, including violently repressing the peaceful resistance -to the extreme of handcuffing a national observer from the Human Rights Defenders Protection Unit (UDEFEGUA)-, and later, harassing the international observers in solidarity, violates the right to defend rights. While the Political Constitution of the Republic requires the government to respect and protect defenders of human rights, the rights to liberty of association, reunion, protest and expression are limited. Likewise, [we see] the installation of politics of xenophobia, which is  typical of authoritarian regimes and dictatorial enemies of democracy.

For these motives, the below-signed persons and organizations:

1.   Demand that the Government of the Republic, in particular the President and migration authorities, revoke the international accompaniers' expulsion order and guarantee the completion of their humanitarian mission.
2.   Demand that the Public Ministry carry out the swift investigation of the denouncements of abuses of power committed by the security forces, civil and military, including the prosecution of the public servants who committed them. Additionally, we demand the immediate cease of the baseless persecution of defenders of human rights, regardless of nationality.
3.   Demand that the head of the Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office (PDH) take effective action to support and accompany defenders of human rights and we urge him to end the  complicit relation with the government authorities responsible for abuses and arbitrary actions. The constitutional authority of the office cannot be limited by particular interests or commitments of any kind.
4.   Urge the United Nations, in particular the Office of the High Commission of Human Rights (OACNUDH) to report on the violations committed by the State of Guatemala with regard to its commitment to human rights; the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (ACNUR), to help and accompany the international public servants, who are the victims of the political xenophobia of the Guatemalan state. [We urge] To the International Committee of the Red Cross, to maintain a presence in zones of territorial conflict and to protect the communities threatened by the voracious  action of the extractive industry. Additionally, [we urge] the European Union, Norway, and Switzerland that in compliance with their decrees regarding defenders of human rights, they take action aimed at protecting all human right defenders, both foreign and national, who work in Guatemala.
5.   Invite the international community to not abandon the Guatemalan people who once again feel repression and political prosecution for simply defending their rights.
6.   Convoke all of Guatemalan society to defend their rights to life, to territory, and to defend the right to defend rights, supporting  social and human rights movements in their fight for a democracy with equality and social justice.


Guatemala, July 6, 2014

Human Rights Convergence

Centro de Análisis Forense y Ciencias Aplicadas (CAFCA); Centro para la Acción Legal en Derechos Humanos (CALDH); Centro de Acción Legal Ambiental y Social (CALAS); Centro Internacional para Investigaciones en Derechos Humanos (CIIDH); Equipo de Estudios Comunitarios y Acción Psicosial (ECAP); Asociación El Refugio de la Niñez; Instituto de Estudios Comparados en Ciencias Penales de Guatemala (ICCPG);Oficina de Derechos Humanos de Arzobispado de Guatemala (ODHAG); Seguridad en Democracia (SEDEM); Unidad de Protección a Defensoras y Defensores de Derechos Humanos (UDEFEGUA); Unión Nacional de Mujeres Guatemaltecas (UNAMG)

Alliance against Criminalization

AMISMAXAJ; Asociación Kaji' B'atz; CCNUEVODIA; ILUGUA; Puente de Paz; OASIS

Organizaciones guatemaltecas responden a la expulsión de dos voluntarios con Brigadas Internacionales de Paz (PBI)

El 1 de julio del 2014, autoridades de la Dirección General de Migración de Guatemala cancelaron la residencia temporal a dos acompañantes internacionales de derechos humanos con Brigadas Internacionales de Paz (PBI).  La Convergencia por los Derechos Humanos, un red de organizaciones Guatemaltecos sociales, ambientales, de derechos humanos, feministas, campesinas y de defensa territorial, respondió a la expulsión, publicando la declaración siguiente. Versíon en ingles aquí.


Las organizaciones sociales, ambientales, de derechos humanos, feministas, campesinas y de defensa territorial abajo firmantes, reclamos nuestro derecho a defender derechos humanos y contar para ello con el acompañamiento solidario.

Al inicio de este mes, una voluntaria y un voluntario de las Brigadas de Paz Internacionales (PBI), fueron conminados por autoridades de migración en Guatemala a abandonar el país. La notificación fue remitida a ambos observadores, sin que el texto en cuestión expresara los hechos según los cuales se les aplicaban artículos de la ley de migración que implicaban su salida obligada del país.

En un falaz afirmación, el titular del Ministerio de Gobernación (Mingob), teniente coronel retirado Héctor Mauricio López Bonilla, aseveró haber visto videos en los cuales se aprecia a los observadores de PBI lanzando piedras a elementos de la Policía Nacional Civil (PNC). Acción que habría tenido lugar durante el desalojo violento a la resistencia pacifica en La Puya, perpetrado con abuso de poder y violencia, por las fuerzas de seguridad bajo el mando el mando del Ministro. Sin embargo, en la nota de cancelación de las residencia temporal de ambos, no se exponen tales hechos, mismos que, como se ha indicado, son falsos.

Con la acción perpetrada por la autoridades del Mingob, primero reprimiendo violentamente una resistencia pacífica--al extremo de engrilletar a una verificadora nacional de la Unidad de Protección a Defensoras y Defensores de Derechos Humanos Guatemala (UDEFEGUA)--, y luego, hostigando a las y los observadores internacionales solidarios, se vulnera el derecho a defender derechos. La Constitución Política de la República obliga al gobierno a respectar y proteger a los defensores de derechos humanos, sin embargo se coarta el derecho a a la libertad de asociación, reunión, manifestación y expresión, además de que se instala una política de xenofobia, típica de regímenes autoritarios y dictatoriales enemigos de la democracia.

Por tales motivos, las personas y organizaciones firmantes:

1.   Exigimos al Gobierno de la República, en particular a la Presidencia y autoridades de Migración, revocar la orden de expulsión de los acompañantes internaciones y otorgar las garantías para el cumplimiento de su misión humanitaria.
2.   Demandamos al Ministerio Publico, la pronto investigación de las denuncias de abusos de poder perpetrado por fuerzas de seguridad civiles y militares, así como el procesamiento de los funcionarios que los cometan. De igual forma, el cese inmediato de las persecuciones sin fundamento en contra de defensoras y defensores de derechos humanos, sean de la nacionalidad que sean.
3.   Requerimos del titular de la Procuraduría de Derechos Humanos (PDH) una acción efectiva de apoyo y acompañamiento a defensoras y defensores de derechos humanos y le exhortamos a que cese la relación complaciente con las autoridades de gobierno responsables de abusos y arbitrariedades. Su mandato constitucional no puede ser limitado por intereses particulares ni compromisos de índole alguna.
4.   Exhortamos al sistema de los Naciones Unidas, en particular a la Oficina de la Alta Comisionada de Derechos Humanos (OACNUDH) a informar sobre las violaciones del Estado de Guatemala a los compromisos en materia de Derechos Humanos; al Alto Comisionado de Naciones Unidas para Refugiados (ACNUR), apoyar y acompañar a las y los cooperantes y funcionarios internacionales, víctimas de políticas xenófobas de estado guatemalteco. Al Comité Internacional de la Cruz Roja, a tener presencia en las zonas de conflictividad territorial y proteger a las comunidades amenazadas por la voraz acción de la industria extractiva. Asimismo, a la Unión Europea, Noruega y Suiza que en cumplimiento de sus Directrices sobre Defensores de Derechos Humanos realicen acciones tendientes a la protección de todos los defensores de derechos humanos extranjeros y nacionales que trabajan en Guatemala.
5.   Invitamos a la comunidad internacional a no abandonar al pueblo de Guatemala que vuelve a sentir el paso acelerado de la represión y la persecución política del Estado por el simple hecho de defender derechos.
6.   Convocamos a la sociedad guatemalteca a defender su derecho a la vida, al territorio y a defender derechos, apoyando al movimiento social y de derechos humanos en su lucha por una democracia con equidad y justicia social.


Guatemala, 6 de julio de 2014

Convergencia por los Derechos Humanos
Centro de Análisis Forense y Ciencias Aplicadas (CAFCA); Centro para la Acción Legal en Derechos Humanos (CALDH); Centro de Acción Legal Ambiental y Social (CALAS); Centro Internacional para Investigaciones en Derechos Humanos (CIIDH); Equipo de Estudios Comunitarios y Acción Psicosial (ECAP); Asociación El Refugio de la Niñez; Instituto de Estudios Comparados en Ciencias Penales de Guatemala (ICCPG);Oficina de Derechos Humanos de Arzobispado de Guatemala (ODHAG); Seguridad en Democracia (SEDEM); Unidad de Protección a Defensoras y Defensores de Derechos Humanos (UDEFEGUA); Unión Nacional de Mujeres Guatemaltecas (UNAMG)

Alianza contra la Criminalización

AMISMAXAJ; Asociación Kaji' B'atz; CCNUEVODIA; ILUGUA; Puente de Paz; OASIS

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Statement from Peace Brigades International Guatemala in response to the cancellation of the residence permits of two volunteers

URGENT: Cancellation of temporary residence permits of two volunteers of PBI Guatemala

Peace Brigades International (PBI) Guatemala would like to bring attention to and share its grave concern following the cancellation of the temporary residence permits of two volunteers of the PBI Guatemala project working in the country. This measure was decided by the Sub-directorate for Foreign Citizen issues which is part of the Office of Migration Services (Dirección General de Migración, DGM) and the Ministry of Interior (Ministerio de Gobernación), in two resolutions dated 1st July, without stating the reasons or events that led to this decision. The resulting situation affects both individuals and their immigration status, as well as the work of international accompaniment and observation for the defence of human rights which PBI has carried out in Guatemala for over 30 years.

On July 1st 2014, two PBI volunteers, of Chilean and Spanish nationality, presented themselves at the Office of Migration Services, which had summoned them via written notice on 25th June (Received 26th June) to provide “information with regards to their temporal residency permits”. In the meeting, during which the legal representative of PBI Guatemala as well as a lawyer were present, the volunteers were informed that their temporal residency had been withdrawn and that they have 10 days to leave the country. However, the resolutions lack any reasoning on the basis of specific evidence to justify the decision and fail to refer to any actions of PBI or its volunteers.

PBI Guatemala has enjoyed legal status en Guatemala since 19951 and is duly registered and accredited by the public authorities, with legal representation and capacity to act within the framework of its mandate and mission. Each PBI volunteer initiates the process of application for temporary residence upon arrival in the country in compliance with immigration law. At all times, PBI and its volunteers in Guatemala act in accord with the legal framework. National authorities are regularly informed on our work both in Guatemala and outside the country.

The two PBI volunteers to whom the resolutions refer, observed the violent eviction of the Peaceful Resistance of La Puya on 23rd May. In June, PBI Guatemala issued an alert calling for attention to these events.2 During the eviction, representatives of the Office of Migration Services were present but subsequently left without approaching the PBI observers, after police officers had checked their migration status by revising their identification documents, only to find them in order.
Over the following weeks, various articles with defamatory comments against foreigners and international organisations were published in Guatemalan media.

We are concerned that the cancellation of the temporary residence permits of two of our volunteers may be related to false information on the work of international observation during the eviction which was published by the media.

In the current context characterized by the closure of spaces for human rights defenders, we are also concerned that the above-mentioned resolutions undermines the possibilities of international accompaniment and observation which aims to protect spaces for non-violent conflict resolution and the promotion of human rights in Guatemala. The work carried out in the country by PBI responds to the request of social organizations and actors who have the right to defend their rights and to seek international accompaniment and observation, when they face threats and attacks due to this engagement.

1. [Issued March 10, 1995 by Ministerial Agreement 148-95, the Interior Ministry.]
2. [PBI, “Violent eviction of the Peaceful Resistence at “La Puya””]

Guatemala, 2.07.2014,[tt_news]=4297&cHash=690f733c81d4e14f6b39950008ec4cdd