IACHR Grants Precautionary Measures in Favor of Supreme Electoral Tribunal Magistrate Irma Elizabeth Palencia Orellana in Guatemala

January 13, 2024

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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued Resolution 1/2024 on January 13, 2024, to grant precautionary measures in favor of Supreme Electoral Tribunal magistrate Irma Elizabeth Palencia Orellana in Guatemala, in the belief that she faces a serious, urgent risk of suffering irreparable harm to her rights.

The party who requested these precautionary measures said that Irma Elizabeth Palencia Orellana—who chaired the Supreme Electoral Tribunal during the 2023 election process—was being threatened, followed, and subjected to other types of surveillance, intimidation, stigmatization, and harassment using virtual platforms, which also incite violence against her life and integrity. These events have been reported to State authorities. The party who requested these precautionary measures further alleged that the implementation and coordination of Palencia Orellana's security detail had several flaws.

The State reported on several measures that had been adopted by the Interior Ministry and the Supreme Electoral Tribunal to protect Palencia Orellana, including the deployment of security officers, a pilot, and an armored vehicle. The State also said that Palencia Orellana's security detail had been strengthened and could continue to be provided based on domestic procedures.

After assessing the request for these precautionary measures and considering the current context in Guatemala, the IACHR commended the State on the measures it had taken. However, the Commission noted that various risk factors persisted and that adequate and sufficient protection measures had not been implemented to mitigate the risks currently faced by Palencia Orellana. Therefore, in keeping with Article 25 of its Rules of Procedure, the IACHR asked the State of Guatemala to take the following action:

  1. Adopt any measures necessary to protect the rights to life and personal integrity of Irma Elizabeth Palencia Orellana
  2. Adopt any measures necessary to enable Irma Elizabeth Palencia Orellana to continue to do her work as a magistrate of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal without being subjected to threats, intimidation, harassment, or any other forms of violence
  3. Come to an agreement with the beneficiary and her representatives concerning any measures that need to be taken
  4. Report on any actions adopted to investigate the alleged events that gave rise to the adoption of these precautionary measures, in order to prevent such events from happening again in the future 

The fact that these precautionary measures have been granted and their adoption by the State do not entail a prejudgment on a potential petition that may be filed before the inter-American system to allege violations of rights protected by the American Convention on Human Rights and other applicable instruments.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 012/24

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