Press Release

Preliminary Observations to the IACHR’s On-Site Visit to Guatemala

August 4, 2017

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Guatemala City, Guatemala — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) today wrapped up an on-site visit to Guatemala, which it conducted from July 31 to August 4 for the purpose of observing the country’s human rights situation on the ground. The delegation that conducted the visit was led by the President of the IACHR, Francisco José Eguiguren Praeli; the First Vice-President, Margarette May Macaulay; the Second Vice-President, Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño; and Commissioners José de Jesús Orozco Henríquez, Paulo Vannuchi, James Cavallaro, and Luis Ernesto Vargas Silva. Other members of the delegation included the IACHR Executive Secretary, Paulo Abrão; the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, Edison Lanza; and the following specialists from the Executive Secretariat: Fiorella Melzi, Jorge Meza, Álvaro Botero, Sofía Galván, Joana Zylberstajn, Efrén Olivares, Tatiana Guasti, María Fernanda Vanegas, Tamara Rusansky, Alberto Mallén, Jaime Vidal, Federico Blanco, Miguel Mesquita, and Daniel Cima.

The Inter-American Commission held meetings with government authorities from the three branches of the State and with civil society representatives and organizations, human rights defenders, indigenous authorities, autonomous and international agencies, academics, and journalists. It also collected testimony from victims of human rights violations and their family members. During its visit, the IACHR carried out unrestricted visits to several regions, including Alta Verapaz, El Petén, and Huehuetenango, and visited prisons and other State custody facilities. The IACHR visited the “Aleluya” Children’s Home; the Detention Center for Male Juveniles (CEJUPLIV, “Etapa II”), in San José, Pinula; the Detention Center for Female Juveniles (CEJUPLIM, “Los Gorriones”); the small jails located on the first basement level of the Judiciary Court Towers; the “Santa Teresa” Pretrial Detention Center for Women; the Women’s Guidance Center (COF); the “Pavón” Criminal Rehabilitation Farm; and the “Federico Mora” National Mental Health Hospital. It also visited the Regional Training Command for Peacekeeping Operations (CREOMPAZ) and the National Police Historical Archive.

The Commission thanks President Jimmy Morales and his government for the invitation to conduct this visit, which reflects the renewed commitment the State has made to the inter-American system to meet its international human rights obligations. The Commission also appreciates all the logistical support and assistance provided for the visit to be carried out in a satisfactory manner, especially by the Presidential Coordinating Commission for Executive Policy on Human Rights (COPREDEH). The IACHR also recognizes the support it received during the visit from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Guatemala. The Commission values the information provided by State authorities and their openness to engage in constructive dialogue with the IACHR. The Commission appreciates the efforts made by victims of human rights violations and their families and by groups, civil society organizations, and indigenous authorities to meet with the delegation and present their testimony, complaints, and communications.

The IACHR has closely followed the human rights situation in Guatemala since the Commission’s earliest years of operation, particularly in response to the gross human rights violations committed during the 1960-1996 internal armed conflict. These included the systematic perpetration of massacres, forced disappearances, rapes, and scorched-earth operations designed to at least partially eliminate the Maya people. During the armed conflict, women suffered violence in a differentiated way, as rape was a widespread, massive, and systematic practice used by agents of the State as part of the counter-insurgency policy. As the Commission for Historical Clarification established, the internal armed conflict in Guatemala was a phenomenon with many causes; it resulted from the convergence of a series of factors such as structural impunity, the closure of political spaces, racism, the increasingly exclusionary and anti-democratic nature of institutions, and the reluctance to promote substantive reforms that could have reduced the structural conflicts.

The signing of the Agreement for a Firm and Lasting Peace, in December 1996, put an end to the conflict. The information the IACHR received consistently during the visit indicates that some of the fundamental reasons behind the internal armed conflict persist today: an economy that is still based on the concentration of economic power in the hands of a few, and a weak State structure with few resources due to low tax collection and high levels of corruption. Guatemala still has structural problems such as racial discrimination, social inequality, deep poverty, exclusion, and lack of access to justice, which constitute obstacles to the full respect of human rights. The Commission also repeatedly received information regarding the persistence of parallel power structures that hinder the fight against impunity and corruption and stand in the way of strengthening the rule of law.

The public protests that took place in 2015 and that marked a historic moment in Guatemala created great hope for structural change, primarily in efforts to fight corruption and the factors behind impunity in the country. The protests also opened the door to policies for the effective protection of human rights for all groups, particularly for those sectors most excluded historically.

During the visit, the IACHR noted that two years after that mobilization of Guatemalan society, a series of challenges identified by the IACHR in its 2015 country report continue to exist today, notwithstanding the important progress in the fight against corruption and impunity spearheaded currently by the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) and the Public Prosecutor’s Office, as well as the efforts of some judges. Legal, institutional, and social aspects must be addressed urgently from a human rights perspective, especially given the situation of unrest in some regions and the poverty, discrimination, and social exclusion faced historically by certain vulnerable groups. 

In light of this situation, the Commission observes ­that the State of Guatemala owes a great debt to history, tied to structural problems from the past. Guatemala is at a crossroads in terms of adopting measures to solve these structural problems and protect the human rights of the Guatemalan people; otherwise, it risks losing ground in this area and repeating episodes of serious human rights violations of the past.

  • Justice and Impunity

Over the years, the IACHR has applied the various mechanisms under its mandate to the search for truth, justice, and reparation in Guatemala. On many occasions, both the Inter-American Commission and Court have urged the State of Guatemala to adopt measures to remove the factors and barriers that have created a situation of impunity.
During the visit, the Commission took note of the recent progress observed in some cases linked to gross violations that occurred during the internal armed conflict, such as the cases of Molina Theissen and CREOMPAZ, among others. During the visit, the IACHR went to the premises of CREOMPAZ, where the “Military Zone 21” operated during the internal armed conflict. The IACHR visited the site where the Forensic Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala (FAFG) has exhumed 558 skeletons, the largest mass grave discovered to date in Latin America. The IACHR also went to the National Police Historical Archive, and recognizes the importance of this facility in the reactivation and clarification of some criminal proceedings for gross human rights violations related to the internal armed conflict. The IACHR notes that this important archive, which is helping to recover historical memory, depends solely on international cooperation. The IACHR urges the State to earmark resources and support this measure for memory, truth, and justice.

The Commission also took note of the emblematic decision made by the Appeals Court for High-Risk Cases to uphold the historic ruling in the Sepur Zarco case, related to domestic and sexual violence against Q’eqchi Maya women.

Nevertheless, such progress is limited compared with the number of violations perpetrated during the conflict and the State of Guatemala’s obligations regarding the rights to truth, justice, and reparation for the victims. The Commission verified the persistence of multiple factors that contribute to a situation of structural impunity, in cases that involve human rights violations both from the past and the present.

The Commission was informed about the abusive use of writs of amparo as a strategy to delay proceedings; amnesty requests; and the use of statutes of limitation as tactics to protect the accused. The Commission received information about the difficulties involved in gaining access to information in the hands of the Ministry of Defense. The Commission also received information about the failure of the police to take effective action to execute arrest warrants handed down years ago by judges, leaving victims in a state of permanent fear of being targets of new attacks by the perpetrators.

The IACHR welcomes the budget increase for the Public Prosecutor’s Office, which it was told about during its visit, and urges the State to adopt effective measures that allow the Public Prosecutor’s Office to continue coordinating actions and working with the CICIG, and to provide the necessary resources for this purpose.
With regard to the genocide case against José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez, former Chief of Military Intelligence, and Efraín Ríos Montt, former Head of State, a civil court found Ríos Montt unfit to stand trial in 2015, and the Constitutional Court ruled that the process must be restarted. The IACHR also notes that in May 2017 a corrupt practices complaint was filed against three Constitutional Court judges on grounds that it was illegal to restart the case. The IACHR is concerned to observe the lack of progress in the genocide case. The Commission reminds the State of Guatemala of its obligation to promptly, impartially, and effectively investigate the gross human rights violations of the past. It is the State’s responsibility to adopt the appropriate administrative or criminal law measures to address any actions or omissions of State officials that may contribute to the denial of justice or to impunity, or that may hamper proceedings to identify and punish those responsible.

On another matter, the IACHR calls to mind the importance of the fight against corruption to ensure the effective exercise of human rights and an independent and impartial justice system. As it expressed in its country report and follow-up report on Guatemala, the IACHR reiterates its recognition of the measures and efforts taken by the CICIG and the Public Prosecutor’s Office to combat corruption and impunity in the last three years, a process in which civil society and international cooperation have played a fundamental role.

This progress against corruption has been accompanied by attacks and threats against justice system operators. In meetings with judges, prosecutors, and public defenders, the Commission received information regarding acts of harassment, attacks, and threats used a means to control and intimidate them in their work, especially those who participate in high-impact cases involving corruption or serious human rights violations, or cases in which important economic interests are at stake. The Commission learned of powerful campaigns carried out in the press and social media to stigmatize justice operators by calling them “guerrillas” or “development detractors,” in addition to other intimidation strategies that include subjecting them repeatedly to unfounded disciplinary or criminal proceedings and delivering threats through written messages or phone calls.

The situation of serious risk for justice operators is evident in the existing precautionary measures that the Commission sought from the State in recent years for Attorney General Thelma Aldana and Judges Claudia Escobar, Jazmín Barrios, and Miguel Ángel Gálvez. The IACHR again calls on the State to protect their rights. During the visit, the Commission received information regarding two requests for precautionary measures presented on behalf of Constitutional Court judges who are said to be at risk because of their work in the judiciary.

Another factor that weakens the independence of justice operators is their reduced budgets and poor working conditions. While the Public Institute of Criminal Defense, as well as the Attorney General of Guatemala, talked about recent budget increases, they also alerted the Commission about their reduced ability to cover the country and their limited capacity to respond effectively to the large number of cases assigned to them. In this regard, the Attorney General reported, for example, that her office has a presence in only 10 percent of the country, and the Public Defender’s Office said that it has only about 300 lawyers to carry out its work on a national level.

Moreover, in terms of the procedures in place to select and appoint justice system operators and members of high courts, in recent years the Commission has learned that there have been serious questions raised about the nomination committees. During the visit, the Commission learned that there are “phantom” law schools created only for the purpose of participating in such committees and influencing their composition; it also was told about possible acts of corruption, conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and insufficient scrutiny of candidates. The consistent questions along these lines reflect profound shortcomings in the selection and appointment processes, which must respect and safeguard the principles of independence and autonomy of judges.

The Commission considers that the process of constitutional reform of the justice system underway provides an important opportunity to strengthen the independence of justice operators in Guatemala. According to the information it has received, this reform process was encouraged by various civil society actors and the OHCHR in Guatemala, to try to strengthen the administration and management of the judiciary. Such reforms are especially important to ensure independence in the processes to select the Attorney General and the members of the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court, all emblematic players in ensuring the continuity of the fight against corruption and impunity in the country.

The IACHR urges the State of Guatemala to adopt this legislation as soon as possible, ensuring that it complies with inter-American standards on the subject. The Commission believes that the proposal to create a separate, independent body to handle the management and administrative functions of the Supreme Court may, in fact, better protect judges’ independence in the face of pressures to influence or control their decisions. As to the nomination and selection process and the performance evaluation process, the State should ensure that the selection is based on merit and professional capacity, guaranteeing that the principle of non-discrimination and equal access to opportunities is observed.

Finally, given the context of pressure and intimidation, the Commission urges the State to strengthen the work of the Unit on Crimes against Justice Operators, recognizing the importance of their work in ensuring access to justice and to due process.

  • Access to Justice for Different Segments of the Population

The Commission has received information regarding the lack of access to justice for members of indigenous peoples in Guatemala and the persistence of linguistic, geographic, and cultural barriers. Figures presented by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples indicate that only around 10 percent of indigenous people have adequate and effective access to justice. During the field visit, the IACHR was informed that some authorities make indigenous persons wait longer than non-indigenous persons: “When a Ladino person arrives and we were here before, they make us wait.” In Alta Verapaz, a woman explained to the IACHR that “they have translators in the Public Prosecutor’s Office, but they don’t know Q’eqchi. They don’t translate everything we say.”

With regard to reparations for violations committed during the armed conflict, the IACHR was informed again that the State of Guatemala’s compliance in providing redress to victims is scant, limited in scope, and lagging behind. Of special concern to the Commission is that the National Reparations Program (PNR) had its budget cut in 2016, which decreased its capacity to implement compensation measures. The total budget allocation established in the agreement to create the PNR has never been met. According to civil society organizations, the PNR’s service continues to be culturally inappropriate, and it does not pay enough attention to the special situation of indigenous women and children. Civil society organizations have also pointed out repeatedly, and the IACHR observed during its visit, that there are still major challenges to providing full redress for the harm suffered during the armed conflict.

In gathering testimony during its on-site visit, the Commission has received information about the many difficulties victims of the armed conflict face in bringing about an effective search for the disappeared. The Commission calls the Guatemalan State’s attention to the urgent need to conduct serious investigations and make the search for the disappeared a priority.

In terms of access to justice for children and adolescents, the Commission observes that this group contends with the challenges of a justice system with structural limitations in addition to the barriers associated with being children and adolescents. The figures on impunity are very high for cases involving physical and sexual violence, abuse, and exploitation of children and adolescents. To address this situation and properly serve this group, in 2016 prosecutorial agencies began to be set up in hospitals, to attend to victims of sexual violence, mistreatment of children and adolescents, and crimes against their integrity. This measure is potentially important for addressing impunity for crimes against children and helping to reduce the rate of such crimes. The Attorney General’s Office (PGN) must play a fundamental role in the defense and protection of children and adolescents who have had their rights violated, a task that is difficult for it to do given the lack of sufficient resources and coverage. In this aspect, the weakness of institutions in the areas of the State responsible for special justice for children hampers the investigation, prosecution, and, where applicable, conviction for crimes against children and adolescents.

Another important step forward with regard to this special justice system is the creation of the Office of the Public Prosecutor’s Section on Crimes Against Children and Adolescents, which seeks to strengthen the specialized approach for the protection of minors’ rights. Previously it was the Prosecutor’s Office for Women that handled these cases. The new office is supposed to implement a comprehensive services model that includes medical and psychological care and social services. However, the Commission has been told of the concern over the lack of sufficient resources for this Prosecutor’s Office to function effectively. The weakness of institutions in the areas of the State that are key to ensuring access to effective justice for children and adolescents represents an important obstacle to investigating and prosecuting crimes against minors and determining who is responsible.

With respect to access to justice for women, the Commission recognizes the efforts made to develop laws and institutions to provide protection and justice for women in general, and for indigenous women in particular, in Guatemala. The creation of mechanisms such as the Prosecutor’s Office for Women, the 24-hour Criminal Court of First Instance for Crimes of Femicide, or the Comprehensive Model to Address Violence against Women are steps in the right direction in the specialization of the justice system and the prosecution of acts of violence against women. However, during its on-site visit the Commission was briefed on the shortage of resources and staff at these institutions, which weakens their capacity to act effectively. For example, in its visit to communities of indigenous women in Alta Verapaz, the Commission received information about the many obstacles that continue to stand in the way of these women’s access to justice; these include discrimination, a lack of adequate services, and lack of coordination. Likewise, the Commission notes that the mechanisms to provide services and access to justice should respond to the needs of all women, including indigenous and Afro-descendant women and migrant and rural women, and should have a presence throughout the country and in women’s native languages. The IACHR also learned about the obstacles and difficulties indigenous women face related to the lack of protection of their collective intellectual property. Their traditional clothing and designs are a fundamental part of the identity and culture of indigenous peoples and communities.

LGBTI persons also face major obstacles in gaining access to justice. According to information provided to the Commission by civil society organizations, the State of Guatemala has failed to guarantee that there will be a proper investigation or due process in cases involving acts of discrimination or violence motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The killings of LGBTI persons are not documented in police reports, and those that happen to be recorded go unpunished.

  • Violence and Citizen Security

In terms of violence and citizen security, the IACHR welcomes the information it received indicating that the overall homicide rate continues to decline in the country, even though it is still one of the highest in Latin America and the Caribbean. Figures from the Civilian National Police report that in 2016 there were 4,520 homicides in Guatemala, 258 fewer than in 2015. The homicide rate declined from 29.5 per 100,000 inhabitants to 27.3.

The IACHR notes that there is a lack of clarity in the numbers related to violent deaths in Guatemala, as the figures reported by the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the Civilian National Police, and the National Institute of Forensic Sciences (INACIF) are difficult to compare. Based on the number of autopsies performed by INACIF in cases involving violent deaths, the number of violent deaths nationally declined between January through June 2016 and the same period in 2017. While 2,754 violent deaths were recorded in this period in 2016, in 2017 the number dropped to 2,681. The main cause of violent death was by gunshot wound.

According to information provided by the State, this overall decrease contrasts with specific increases in the number of violent deaths in the department (province) of Guatemala, as well as in violent deaths of women, which is of concern. Figures provided by the National Civilian Police and the Public Prosecutor’s Office also reflect these trends. The IACHR reiterates its call to the State to prepare public policies geared toward prevention, to ensure that Guatemalans can live in a country free of violence.

During its on-site visit, the Commission received information showing a lag between the State’s institutional efforts to protect women and the increase in violence against women in the country. According to data from INACIF autopsies, there were 374 violent deaths of women from January through June 2016, while there were 431 in the same period in 2017. These figures show the upward trend in violent deaths of women, despite the decrease in violent deaths of men in the same period. The Commission has also obtained information regarding the prevalence of acts of asphyxiation and dismemberment, including decapitations, showing extreme brutality against women’s bodies. According to information obtained by the Commission, acts of sexual violence account for the most crimes against women reported in the country, and these also show an increase. According to data by the Secretariat against Sexual Violence, Exploitation, and Human Trafficking, in 2015 the Public Prosecutor’s Office recorded 7,845 complaints of crimes of sexual violence and 7,949 in 2016. Of those from last year, fewer than 1 percent ended up in a conviction.

Similarly, according to civil society organizations, the reduction of the national homicide rate is not reflected in the serious violence that persists against indigenous people, migrants, children and adolescents, human rights defenders, journalists, and LGBTI persons. On this last point, the Commission has received information indicating that there has been an increase in the number of trans women killed in Guatemala.

In terms of the situation of children and adolescents, the IACHR is troubled by how their rights are jeopardized by the actions of gangs (maras) and criminal groups—especially the pressure, threats, violence, and deceit used to pressure them into joining or collaborating with the gangs, and the way they are used and abused by these groups for their activities, which in turn exposes them to contact with the criminal justice system. The children and adolescents who live in barrios where maras and gangs have an established presence are the ones whose rights are most impaired, and the IACHR has received troubling information regarding the impact this situation has on the children. Moreover, in a society in which approximately 1.5 million school-age children are outside the educational system—more than 25 percent—and lack opportunities to forge their way in life, these are important risk factors that contribute to children and adolescents joining gangs or else deciding to migrate.

The IACHR also received detailed information on the operation of sophisticated extortion gangs in the country, particularly in the capital city. The Commission learned about networks of gangs that extort merchants, extracting thousands of dollars per month from the victims under the threat that they will kill their employees or family members; in some cases, they have followed through with their threats with regrettable fatal consequences. Victims said that even though they had reported incidents to State agencies, the State has failed to dismantle these networks and prosecute the true leaders of the criminal organizations.

In addition, the IACHR is concerned about the lack of State control over the private security sector. The Commission received information about the increase in the number of private security companies and agents in the country, as well as complaints about private security company employees who are involved in extortion and other crimes.

The State informed the IACHR that since 2012 the Ministry of the Interior has been increasing the number of officers of the Civilian National Police (PNC), and it expects that for 2017 there will be more than 37,000 police officers. The State also referred to the increase in the Interior Ministry’s budget and to the 2014-2034 National Policy on Violence and Crime Prevention, Citizen Security, and Peaceful Coexistence and its National Action Plan.  

In its country report on Guatemala, the IACHR indicated that the militarization of internal security remains a constant in Guatemala, where military personnel often take part in citizen security tasks and are sometimes put in command of the PNC. The IACHR has indicated that the police and armed forces are two substantively different institutions, insofar as the purposes for which they were created and their training and preparation are concerned. The armed forces are trained to fight enemies, while police agencies are trained to protect and control civilians. However serious the internal security situation or even the level of ordinary crime may be, it does not constitute a military threat to the sovereignty of the State. Therefore, the use of the military is not consistent with the inter-American system’s standards in this matter. In this regard, the IACHR welcomes the information received from the State indicating that it is committed to gradually withdrawing elements of the Army from performing citizen security tasks.

  • Obstacles to Defending Human Rights

During its on-site visit, the Commission once again observed that human rights defenders are at extreme risk because of the situation of ongoing violence and criminalization to which they are exposed. The information received by the Commission points to the improper use of criminal charges such as instigation to commit a crime or abduction and kidnapping; lengthy judicial proceedings and alternative measures; groundless arrest warrants; arbitrary arrests; and pretrial detention in order to criminalize their activities.

The IACHR observed that most cases involving violence and criminalization of rights defenders are related to environmental defense; the right of indigenous peoples to be consulted before the implementation of administrative, economic, or productive measures in their lands and territories; and the defense of territory when faced with the installation of hydroelectric and mining projects. The Commission reiterates that States have the obligation to guarantee in all circumstances that rights defenders can carry out their legitimate advocacy activities without fear or reprisals, free from any restriction, and to ensure the safety of groups of defenders at special risk and adopt specific protection measures tailored to their needs.

The IACHR observes with utmost concern that there has been an increase in the number of killings of human rights defenders. According to information reported by civil society organizations, the number of killings increased in 2016 in comparison with the data from 2015 and 2014.

The use of social media and other information outlets to disseminate messages that stigmatize human rights defenders is constant. The IACHR has been briefed on the racist content, especially directed against the representation and leadership of indigenous communities and peoples, as well as homophobic content targeting organizations and individuals who defend the rights to sexual diversity and sexist content targeting female rights defenders. The Commission also received information regarding human rights defenders who are subjected to permanent fear because of baseless criminal cases brought against them. For example, the Commission learned that community and indigenous leaders from the Comité Campesino del Altiplano have some 204 arrest warrants against them, brought in reprisal for their defense of the rights of their communities.

Particularly alarming is the information received by the Commission indicating that a great many of the intimidations and threats are reportedly linked to economically powerful groups with interests that go against the defenders’ causes, or are connected with structures linked to security forces that operated during the armed conflict.

The Commission noted that leaders who defend the rights of indigenous peoples, the land, and the environment are especially subject to stigma, attacks, arrests, and killings. In Alta Verapaz, the Commission received troubling information regarding the criminalization of indigenous women who defend the right to land, territory, and natural resources in the context of mega-development projects in Guatemala. Women indigenous leaders reported to the IACHR that acts of sexual violence had been perpetrated against indigenous women who defend human rights.

During its visit to Ixquisis and Santa Eulalia, in the department of Huehuetenango, the IACHR observed with great concern that, in a situation of serious unrest because of various hydroelectric projects, human rights defenders are subject to lengthy judicial proceedings, precautionary measures, arbitrary detentions, and arrest warrants. The Commission also received testimony from the sons of Sebastián Alonso Juán, a rights defender who died of gunshot wounds on January 17, 2017, during a peaceful demonstration to protest the hydroelectric project in Ixquisis, Huehuetenango.

The Commission recognizes the State’s efforts to initiate, at the beginning of 2018, a process to create the “Public Policy for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders,” which has had the support of various State entities and civil society organizations. Along these lines, the Commission urges the State of Guatemala to urgently approve and implement this policy, with a proper legal basis. As the inter-American human rights system has indicated, this policy should include the implementation of a comprehensive protection program for human rights defenders, one that includes special measures of adequate and effective protection that are suitable to deal with the danger the person is facing and able to produce the results for which they were conceived. This program should incorporate a risk analysis model to adequately determine the danger and the needs for protection of each defender or group, incorporating a gender perspective, for example, or one geared toward groups that are in an especially vulnerable situation. The State should also ensure that authorities or third parties do not manipulate the punitive power of the State and its institutions of justice to harass human rights defenders and justice system operators.

The Commission also observed that while the State has developed initiatives such as the Unit for the Analysis of Attacks against Human Rights Defenders and the Unit on Crimes against Human Rights Activists, these entities have not been strengthened. The first continues to operate without a law in place to ensure its permanency, and the second does not have sufficient capacity to effectively identify and punish those responsible. The Commission has also noted that the State still does not have the proper laws and practices to ensure that rights defenders are not targets of unjustified criminal proceedings. The IACHR reminds the State of its obligation to investigate and punish violations of defenders’ human rights in order to combat existing impunity and prevent a repetition of such acts.

  • Discrimination and Inequality

Many of the causes that led to the armed conflict persist in the country today: an economy based on the concentration of economic power in the hands of the few, along with social inequality and racial discrimination. The lack of access to justice, coupled with corruption and public insecurity, has left certain segments of society in a state of permanent discrimination and inequality; this has led to exclusion and worsened their situation of poverty.

Guatemala is one of the most unequal countries in the world in terms of health, education, and income distribution. This situation particularly affects indigenous people, who constitute more than 60 percent of the population; people of African descent; women; children; lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and intersex persons (LGBTI); persons deprived of liberty; and people with disabilities.

The Commission observed that Guatemala continues to have problems related to access to employment and high rates of informal employment. The poverty that affects more than half the population, inequality and marginalization, low-quality education, and lack of opportunity, along with weak institutions, encourage the presence of gangs and drug trafficking cartels, which in turn are largely blamed for the climate of violence the country is experiencing.

During its visit, the Commission observed the situation of severe poverty, inequality, and exclusion in which indigenous peoples live, as well as the unrest associated with land tenure and control, in the context of single-crop farming and hydroelectric and extractive projects. The Commission has noted that such problems stem fundamentally from a lack of respect for the right of indigenous peoples to prior, free, and informed consultation, in accordance with international standards. In cases in which the projects have contaminated water sources and lands, the State should take measures for reparation and non-repetition, always in consultation with the affected communities and indigenous peoples. The application of prior consultation, meanwhile, should allow the affected communities and peoples to participate in any benefits such projects may produce.

The IACHR has received information regarding mining, hydroelectric, and single-crop farming projects that are being developed without prior consultation. The Commission has also been briefed on the contamination of water and soil and on people’s forced displacement from their lands through intimidation, threats, and accusations to criminalize them, as a result of these projects being developed. The IACHR reminds the State of Guatemala that it has an international obligation to undertake this consultation, in accordance with inter-American standards in this area. The lack of internal regulations cannot be an obstacle or a pretext for failing to apply these standards. The IACHR urges the Congress of the Republic to draft a Law on Prior Consultation that meets inter-American standards on this subject, through a process of consultation with indigenous and Garifuna peoples and communities.

The Commission was very concerned to receive information about the situation of Afro-descendants in Guatemala. One of the main complaints has to do with the lack of recognition of Afro identity in the country, which keeps people of African descent from exercising their civil and political rights. Moreover, civil society organizations informed the IACHR about the lack of statistics on Guatemalans of African descent, and especially about the failure to include them on the national population census. The lack of data renders their demands and needs invisible and excludes them from fully exercising their cultural, social, and political rights.

The Commission calls attention to the particular vulnerability and discrimination faced by Guatemalan women, especially indigenous and Afro-descendant women. The situation of poverty, illiteracy, geographical exclusion, and lack of access to food, among other factors, has exacerbated the problem of malnutrition in the country. Malnutrition has a gender impact, with differentiated consequences for indigenous children and women in terms of infant and maternal mortality. Recognizing that maternal mortality has gone down in the country in recent years, the Commission reminds the State that in most cases maternal mortality is preventable, and calls on the State to safeguard the lives and integrity of women.

The situation of children in Guatemala, especially indigenous children, is truly alarming. Guatemala has one of the highest rates of chronic child malnutrition in the hemisphere, with an even more severe impact on indigenous children. The Commission was informed during its visit that 48 percent of children in Guatemala suffer from chronic malnutrition, and according to UNICEF data, 8 out of 10 indigenous children suffer from this condition. In 2017 alone, 28 children were reported to have died of acute malnutrition, according to information provided by the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman. During its on-site visit, the Commission was consistently told that in some areas of the country, such as the department of Alta Verapaz, children’s snacks are not provided often enough and are not nutritious. Given such challenges, the IACHR encourages the State of Guatemala’s efforts to implement food distribution programs, particularly through the creation of the Presidential Commission to Reduce Chronic Malnutrition.

The recent tragic fire at the “Virgen de la Asuncion” Residential Institution, on March 8, 2017, which claimed the lives of 41 girls and female adolescents who had been locked in a classroom, points to the situation of abandonment faced by children who are wards of the State, as well as the crisis Guatemala is going through in this area. The Commission has taken note that the residential institution in question was shut down; however, it received information about the lack of adequate, ongoing medical care for the minors who survived the fire. Most of the families of the surviving girls with whom the Commission met reported that they were not receiving any support from the State, including psychological support or support to defray medical expenses, and that there had been no follow-up to determine the well-being of the survivors.

The Commission was also informed that a number of the children who had been at the residential institution and managed to escape have yet to be located even though “Alba-Keneth” alerts had been activated, a situation of grave concern. The Commission also learned that due to the limitations of the agencies in charge, it has not been possible to adequately follow up on many of the children who were reintegrated into their families, and their current situation remains unknown. The IACHR urges the State of Guatemala to ensure that the survivors receive proper treatment; to monitor, in accordance with international standards, the situation of the girls who were returned to their families; and to focus its best efforts on locating the missing children, as requested in the precautionary measures in force.

The Commission regrets that despite the events that occurred, the judicial process in this case has been limited to minor crimes. The IACHR calls to mind the importance that the investigation into these events be done with due diligence and in keeping with the types of crimes and charges that address the gravity of what happened. The information the Commission received during the visit indicates that the State still lacks a comprehensive response to prevent the recurrence of similar events and properly protect the rights of children who are wards of the State. The institutional structure that handles these matters in Guatemala is unstable and weak, and the Commission observed that the agencies responsible for the protection of children and adolescents do not coordinate their actions or work together. Types of alternative care that do not involve institutionalization are practically nonexistent; there are not enough qualified staff at the institutions; the children and adolescents are kept in jail-like conditions; and there are no real individualized care plans, nor can effective measures be identified to achieve the deinstitutionalization of children and adolescents in the country.  
The IACHR is concerned about the lack of official information on the number of children who are in this situation. According to UNICEF data, nearly 6,000 children are institutionalized in the country. Children and adolescents who are wards of the State are often placed in the custody of staff who resemble security guards. The Commission received repeated information about escape attempts by children, sometimes with no record of what happened to them, and about discrimination against trans children who had reportedly been abandoned by the institutions responsible for their guardianship.

This tragedy is symptomatic of a failed child protection system in Guatemala. To address this problem at its foundations, the State should radically transform the current model, which is still rooted in a custodial, welfare-based approach, and change to a model of comprehensive protection as required under international standards. That entails redesigning the current institutional structure and the principles on which it operates, placing greater emphasis on ensuring that the rights of children and adolescents are protected and putting prevention measures in place, instead of mainly acting in reaction to violations of rights once these have already occurred. For that to happen, it is critical for the State to adopt the legal structure needed to create a national system for the comprehensive protection of the rights of children and adolescents, one that pays more attention to developing capacities at the local level, closest to the children. The IACHR was informed that legislative initiatives along these lines are underway, and it urges the State to move decisively in that direction.

  • Forced Evictions and Forced Migration

Guatemala is a country of origin, transit, destination, and return of migrants, with emigration the predominant trend. Throughout the visit, the IACHR received considerable information about how in recent years various factors have forced tens of thousands of people to flee their homes, both within Guatemala and to other countries in the region, contributing to the crisis of displaced people and refugees from the Northern Triangle of Central America.

Migrants in transit become victims of multiple types of abuse and even disappearances, and the Guatemalan State’s response falls seriously short, both in ensuring that these individuals and their family members have access to justice and in searching for missing and unidentified migrants. The IACHR underscores the progress represented by the entry into force of the new Migration Code and the creation of the National Migration Authority. The IACHR calls on the State to issue implementing regulations for this law and other laws related to people in the context of human mobility, in accordance with the norms and standards of the inter-American human rights system, through a process that includes the participation of civil society organizations and other relevant actors.

As to internal displacement, an assessment done by the Universidad Rafael Landívar in 2016 indicated that this problem is exacerbated by structural violence and its connection with the truncated implementation of the Peace Agreements; the promotion of neoliberal policies; and the fragility of the State, which is influenced by military, political, and economic elites, some linked to illicit activities. Forced displacement in Guatemala is a phenomenon with many causes. The IACHR received information indicating that the main causes include different forms of violence, extortion, and threats; the presence of organized crime and drug trafficking activity; the expansion of megaprojects and large-scale business activities (such as single-crop sugar cane and oil palm plantations, extensive cattle ranching, and the expansion of grazing, the cutting of precious woods, metal and non-metal mining, hydroelectric projects, archeological extraction, and tourism); and factors related to climate change and natural disasters.

The IACHR observes that for decades, one factor common to the various forms of violence in Guatemala has been the tenure, use, and concentration of land and natural resources, combined with different forms of discrimination and racism. The main victims of this have been members of indigenous peoples, campesinos, community members, people living in poverty, and other vulnerable populations that live mainly in rural and marginalized areas. The State has yet to do an assessment or collect statistics on the nature and scope of internal displacement in Guatemala. Currently, most of the information available about this problem is based primarily on qualitative and partial or indirect data. The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) has estimated that in 2016 there were 257,000 internally displaced people in Guatemala.

During the visit, the IACHR received information about cases related to displacement due to the actions of illicit actors, such as maras and gangs, criminal groups, and criminal offenders acting on their own. Children and adolescents are most at risk of becoming victims of internal displacement and most vulnerable to becoming victims of human trafficking for sex or labor or targets of recruitment by gangs and criminal organizations. The Commission also received information about cases of displacement due to gender-related violence, as well as cases involving displacement of LGBTI people because of the prevalence of homophobia and lesbophobia.

For their part, the increase in the number of people who have been forced to leave Guatemala and seek asylum in neighboring countries due to the violence has been alarming; figures from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) indicate that from 2010 to 2016, there has been a documented increase of 3,271.3 percent in the number of requests for asylum. For the same period, the number of people who were recognized as refugees increased by 98.54 percent.

Guatemala is also an important country of return for migrants, especially given the hardening of immigration policies seen in Mexico and the United States in recent years. The number of people detained and deported by Mexican authorities has increased exponentially, especially since the implementation of the Southern Border Plan in 2014. According to official figures from Mexico’s National Institute of Migration (INM), detentions of Guatemalans rose by 75.22 percent from 2014 to 2015, while deportations increased by 92.95 percent. This situation raises important challenges related to the reintegration of these individuals into society and the effective exercise of their rights. While the Guatemalan State has begun to adopt some measures to receive and reintegrate deportees or returnees, such as the recent opening of an area at the international airport in Guatemala City to welcome migrant children, these efforts continue to be insufficient to address the current situation, especially given the increase in deportations and the impacts these types of measures can have over the long term in Guatemalan society.

In recent years, the Commission has observed how corporations that develop various projects related to single-crop farming, mining, hydroelectric power, oil, or tourism, among others, have forced the population to relocate or else to resist and defend their territories, often suffering criminalization when the criminal justice system is used against them and they are accused of crimes such as “usurpation” or “aggravated usurpation” of protected areas.

The Commission was informed that evictions usually take place without advance notice, and are carried out summarily and violently by members of the Civilian National Police, the Army, and the National Council of Protected Areas (CONAP). The evictions involve the burning and destruction of houses, food, and animals, and people are given no provision for return or relocation or any real possibility for due process or access to justice. Civil society organizations informed the IACHR about the existence of 125 applications for evictions and about the evictions in recent years of communities such as Centro Uno and Nueva Esperanza. Given the situation, 38 communities in El Petén have tried to engage in direct dialogue with the State, but this effort has not resulted in a meeting between the parties to examine alternatives; rather, court orders for eviction have been executed as planned. In fact, the IACHR has received information indicating that court-ordered evictions that were on hold for more than 12 years have been reactivated within a short period of time, in response to pressure from economic interests.

During the visit, the Commission traveled to the community of Laguna Larga in the municipality of San Andrés, in the department of Petén. The community of Laguna Larga decided to flee the place where they had their houses, farm animals, and subsistence crops before they were evicted. The operation to execute the court-ordered eviction was carried out by 1,500 members of the National Police, 300 Army troops, and officials from CONAP and the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman. When the Commission delegation arrived, the area was being guarded by Army troops and CONAP officials. During its visit to the community, the Commission saw multiple houses that had been destroyed, and the few household items and belongings that were left were strewn on the floor. The Commission also observed that a number of houses had been burned, or their wooden columns had been cut to bring the houses down. Only the school, the church, and a few houses had not been destroyed or burned. The Laguna Larga community school had been occupied by the Army and dubbed the Laguna Larga Military Outpost of the Kaibil Battalion. One of the houses that was not destroyed was being used by CONAP officials. The water wells built by the former community members were also being used by the military troops and CONAP officials. Beans, corn, and squash could still be seen growing near the houses, and farm animals wandered freely among the houses and ruins of what was left of the community.

After that, the delegation of the Inter-American Commission traveled a few kilometers north, to the border area between Guatemala and Mexico, where at the time of the visit the members of the Laguna Larga community who had fled the eviction were located. Those affected had moved to an area near the ejido of El Desengaño, in the municipality of Candelaria, in Campeche, Mexico. The Commission was welcomed by the community, which has close to 450 people, including just over 100 children, 100 women, 200 men, and 50 older persons. As the Commission was able to observe, the community was living in inhuman and degrading conditions due to the lack of drinking water, electricity, and basic sanitation services. The families there were living in shacks (champas) with straw roofs and tarps, exposed to weather, animals, and the elements. According to members of the community, most of the humanitarian assistance they had received had come from the Mexican State, as well as from civil society organizations in Mexico and organizations such as UNICEF, the Mexican Red Cross, and Mexican authorities. The doctor at the clinic built for the community reported to the Commission that the situation is quite serious and that the community’s displacement and vulnerable situation had caused various health problems. The doctor noted specifically that there were many children with different degrees of malnutrition, nine of them with severe malnutrition.

Members of the community also reported having been threatened and intimidated by the Army troops guarding their former community, who have not allowed them to salvage the belongings they left behind or their crops, which are beginning to go bad. Members of the community asked the Commission to intercede with the Guatemalan State for them to be allowed to return to the community in which they had been living since the early 2000s.

Guatemala is also a country of origin, transit, and destination for men, women, children, and adolescents who are victims of human trafficking for sex or labor. Indigenous persons and children and adolescents tend to be the main victims of these crimes. Children tend to be exploited to beg in the streets or work as street vendors; for their part, criminal organizations tend to sexually exploit both girls and boys.

  • Prisons and State Custody Facilities

In terms of the situation of persons deprived of liberty in Guatemala, the Inter-American Commission observes that the Guatemalan prison system is characterized primarily by overcrowding (22,464 people held, with a capacity for 6,320), excessive use of pretrial detention (50 percent of the general prison population), and a backlog in the justice system. It is also characterized by deplorable detention conditions, high levels of violence, corruption, and lack of effective control by the authorities inside the facilities. Women make up 10 percent of the total prison population, which is of particular concern considering that this is more than double the average percentage of female prison inmates in the Americas.

The IACHR welcomes the State’s efforts to reduce the use of pretrial detention, primarily through the application of alternative measures and the creation of the Democratic Criminal Prosecution Policy. However, the excessive use of pretrial detention continues to be one of the most serious problems for persons deprived of liberty in Guatemala. Specifically, the IACHR has information indicating that the main challenges the Guatemalan State faces in reducing the excessive use of pretrial detention—and, consequently, the high levels of prison overcrowding—include crime policies that propose higher levels of incarceration as a solution to citizen insecurity; the use of disciplinary control measures as a means to pressure or punish judicial authorities who decide to apply alternative measures; the lack of access to and limited availability of public defenders; the lack of coordination among institutions in the justice administration system; the large number of suspended hearings; and the lack of records to control the timeframes of judicial proceedings. Considering this situation, the IACHR calls on the State to take immediate measures to apply pretrial detention in keeping with relevant inter-American standards and thereby address the problem of overcrowding.

The Commission is particularly concerned about the deplorable prison conditions it observed, which jeopardize the life and integrity of persons deprived of liberty in Guatemala and which include alarming levels of overcrowding; deficient infrastructure; lack of sanitation; negligent medical attention; and inadequate food. The IACHR was concerned to observe the high levels of overcrowding in all the detention centers it visited, including the three small jails—commonly known as “chicken coops”—in the Judiciary Court Towers. The Pavón Prison Farm, with a capacity to house 960 people, holds 3,363; the Women’s Guidance Center, with a 125-bed capacity, houses 700; and the Santa Teresa Prison, with a capacity for 250 women, has a population of 1,257. The extreme overcrowding, together with the lack of ventilation and resulting high temperatures, poses a serious health risk for the inmates. The negligent medical attention provided in these places is reflected clearly by the fact that there is only one doctor from Monday to Friday for the three prisons visited by the IACHR, which have a combined population of 5,320 inmates.

The Commission observed that the use of isolation in the three prisons it visited goes against international standards, and is applied as a “security measure” to protect the safety of those detained or as punishment for misconduct. The IACHR documented the situation of 45 individuals in eight isolation rooms; 28 of them were men and 17 women. In general terms, depending on the cell, these were shared spaces characterized by extremely close quarters, unhygienic conditions, lack of natural light and scant artificial illumination, poor ventilation, and high temperatures. Those held in isolation had the right to one hour per week of sunlight—in the best of cases, one hour per day—and were not allowed to receive visits or have contact with family members. Of alarming concern is the length of time these exceptional regimes are applied; of the 45 people in isolation who were interviewed, 31 had reportedly been isolated from the general prison population for more than a year. Among the rooms it visited, the IACHR draws attention to the deplorable conditions in the cell known as “Reflection,” in the Women’s Guidance Center, which housed five women in a space measuring 1 by 2 meters. In addition to the rights violations that characterize this type of system, the women do not have access to a single hour of sunlight, and they can sleep in the cell only in a sitting position. Two of these women have been in these conditions for more than a year. Given the situation, the IACHR urges the State to use isolation only as an exception and in line with applicable inter-American standards.

Likewise, the IACHR received testimony from many individuals who expressed the desperation of inmates who are not allowed to leave prison even though they have served out their sentence. The IACHR has information available indicating that hundreds of people are in Guatemalan prisons for charges of laundering money and other assets, as they lack the financial resources they need to cover the fine imposed after they have served their time. This is because Guatemalan law stipulates that the punishment for these crimes requires those convicted to pay a fine equal to “the value of assets, instruments or products that were the object of the crime.” Along these lines, an inmate at the Pavón Prison Farm indicated, “I’ve been here for eight years, but my sentence was for six. They seized $50,000 from me, and I don’t have any money to pay the fine. Every day they discount 100 quetzales from what I owe. I’m going to be here the rest of my life.”

Finally, it is of particular concern to the Commission that military installations are being used to indefinitely house persons deprived of liberty and that police stations are being used as permanent detention centers. According to July 2017 data, 1,552 people in all were being held in Civilian National Police stations. The IACHR believes that these types of detention centers do not meet the minimum conditions necessary for the detention to be compatible with the right to personal integrity, and in this regard, it calls on the State to ensure that the necessary measures are in place so that people deprived of liberty can be transferred to detention centers that meet the applicable international standards.

The IACHR visited the “Los Gorriones” Detention Center for Female Juveniles (CEJUPLIM), which houses girls, adolescents, and women from 13 to 22 years of age—some of them pregnant or with children—who have come into contact or conflict with the criminal justice system. During the visit, the IACHR observed various human rights problems, including an inadequate infrastructure that has negative effects on the girls’ and teens’ physical and mental health; the lack of adequate food; the lack of sanitation and proper health care; adult women sharing spaces with girls and adolescents; men working in an area where there should only be women; and a physical infrastructure more appropriate to prisons than to a juvenile detention center. The Commission also heard from adolescents who talked about having suffered cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, as well as treatment that could constitute torture.

Meanwhile, in its visit to the “Etapa II” Detention Center for Male Juveniles (CEJUPLIV), the Commission also observed the presence of boys and young men as well as male adults. In fact, close to 90 percent of the inmates at Etapa II are of age, and they share spaces every day with boys and adolescents, in open contravention of international standards. The IACHR received information indicating that inmates in these facilities had been subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment, just as in Los Gorriones. The information available also indicates that family members who visit inmates in these facilities are subject to humiliations when they visit and are forced to strip naked and perform demeaning acts.

The IACHR observed the punitive and prison-like nature of the current detention system for these boys and young men. The detention facilities operate under extremely precarious conditions of incarceration in terms of overcrowding, unhealthy and unsafe conditions, and violence. This exposes the adolescents to more abuses and violations of their rights and does not help to prevent recidivism; it exacerbates the problem instead of providing an opportunity to help the young men constructively integrate into society. The State lacks comprehensive and effective socio-educational programs for adolescent offenders. The IACHR reminds the State that these conditions run contrary to international standards on juvenile justice, and urges the State to review its current juvenile justice system and the management of detention centers for children and adolescents.

The IACHR also received information from judges who enforce measures for adolescent criminal offenders. In this context, the Commission noted the difficulty in enforcing court rulings related to conditions in juvenile detention centers for female and male offenders. These difficulties include the slow pace at which some State entities are said to be implementing the measures that are ordered; the lack of human and financial resources for these entities to effectively carry out such measurers; and pressure and resistance from other members of the judiciary itself.

In its visit to these juvenile detention centers, the IACHR also observed that most of the offenders had broken the law when they were adolescents and were continuing to serve time in the facility even after becoming adults. The Commission was informed about the need to establish intermediate facilities so that juvenile offenders who are now adults can serve out their sentences in a specialized facility that houses neither adolescents nor adult prisoners.

With respect to centers under the custody of the State, the Commission visited the Federico Mora National Mental Health Hospital, the only long-stay public institution that provides psychiatric care to people in Guatemala. This hospital houses not only patients but also criminal offenders sent there by court order because they are considered to have some sort of mental disability. The IACHR has been monitoring the situation of the hospital patients there since it granted precautionary measures in 2012, based on information indicating that multiple human rights violations were perpetrated in the institution, including physical and sexual abuse of patients by guards and medical staff; inhuman and degrading conditions; negligent medical attention; and the use of prolonged isolation regimes. The hospital currently has 334 patients.

In terms of the progress made in the last few years, the State of Guatemala informed the Commission that the budget allocated to the Federico Mora Hospital had increased, from 14 million to 54 million quetzales (equivalent to more than $7 million), and that the increase had primarily been used to improve the institution’s infrastructure. During its visit to the institution as part of its on-site visit to Guatemala, the IACHR verified that the infrastructure conditions had improved when compared with those reported at the time the precautionary measures were granted. The Commission also observed that the patients at the hospital had been separated from the male patients identified as criminal offenders, and that as a result, the presence of guards at the facility was notably lower.

The IACHR welcomes these measures; however, it does not believe they are sufficient to fully safeguard the life and integrity of the patients at the Federico Mora facility. The IACHR specifically regrets that the measures adopted have not focused on creating community services that would enable the social reintegration of patients. This situation is of particular concern considering that the State itself has admitted that there are patients who remain in the institution only because they have no family members who will look after them. Moreover, according to an evaluation done in 2013 by independent psychiatric personnel and medical staff at the facility, approximately 75 percent of the patients (not including the criminal offenders) do not need to stay in the institution “for psychiatric reasons” and could “easily” integrate into the community if they had outpatient services. In this context, and considering the lack of community options for patients at the Federico Mora Hospital to receive the services and treatment they need outside the facility, the IACHR urges the State to adopt the necessary measures to ensure that they can live in community, by creating and establishing community services. In this regard, the IACHR welcomes the new inclusive health model, implemented by the Ministry of Health at the beginning of this year, which has a human rights and community integration approach.

  • Freedom of Expression

As for the situation related to the right to freedom of expression, the Commission and its Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression observed that Guatemala is experiencing a context of violence against journalists, characterized by killings and threats. Nevertheless, journalists across the country are still the primary source of information and debate on the serious human rights problems and corruption afflicting Guatemala. Since he came to power, President Morales has recognized this role and has committed to respect the principles that guarantee freedom of expression.

In 2016 and so far in 2017, the IACHR received information indicating that 11 members of the media have been killed in Guatemala. In 2017, there have also been many cases involving aggression and attacks on journalists and media outlets. The Public Prosecutor’s Office informed the Commission that criminal investigations are in the early stages regarding 170 complaints filed with the Common Crime Unit and 24 with the Unit for Crimes Against Life. During the on-site visit, journalists and organizations that advocate for freedom of expression reported an increase in threats and stigmatization through social media, attacks by law enforcement, and a climate of sharp political and social polarization that also permeates journalism, particularly opinion journalism. Journalism organizations also pointed to local politicians and members of the national police and organized crime as factors of intimidation in the interior of the country.

Despite the continuing high levels of impunity for the killings of journalists, the IACHR welcomes the progress made in the investigation into the killing of two journalists, which deeply moved the country. In January 2017, the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) and the Public Prosecutor’s Office requested that a preliminary proceeding (antejuicio) be brought against Congressman Julio Antonio Juárez Ramírez for the deaths of journalists Danilo López and Federico Salazar in March 2015 in Mazatenango, Suchitepéquez. Another two individuals were reportedly arrested for their participation in the crime. However, it is troubling that the legislator in question has still not gone to trial, due to a series of dilatory proceedings filed by the accused in the Supreme Court; these have yet to be resolved and therefore he keeps his immunity. In addition, during the first half of 2017, through the actions of the Office of the Public Prosecutor’s Unit for Crimes against Journalists, two individuals were convicted of crimes they committed against journalists in 2016. The IACHR also welcomes the strengthening of the Unit for Crimes against Journalists and the establishment, in May 2017, of a Prosecution Unit for Crimes Committed against Journalists, based in the department of Quetzaltenango.

During a meeting with the IACHR and the Special Rapporteur, President Jimmy Morales announced that the government will soon approve a Program for the Protection of Journalists and Members of the Media, which it has been working on in consultation with journalism organizations. The IACHR welcomes this move. On many occasions, the IACHR, its Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights have recommended that a program be created to protect journalists and others who work in the media.

The IACHR observed that Guatemala has made no progress in terms of the excessive levels of concentration in the ownership of over-the-air television. Businessman Ángel González owns four private VHF channels that broadcast in Guatemala, and according to sources from both civil society and the State, he is responsible for imposing an agenda associated with sectors opposed to institutional reforms that are related to anti-corruption efforts and the investigation and punishment of serious human rights violations. As stated in a report on campaign financing (Financiamiento de la Política en Guatemala) published by the CICIG in 2015, “there is probably no other case in the world in which a single person owns the four existing private VHF channels.”

On that point, the CICIG and the Public Prosecutor’s Office reported that Radiotelevisión Guatemala S.A. (Channel 3) and Televisiete S.A. (Channel 7), owned by the businessman González, had provided “illicit electoral financing” to the campaign of the Partido Patriota, which took its leader, Otto Pérez Molina, to the presidency and Roxana Baldetti to the vice-presidency. In exchange, from the time the administration of Pérez Molina and Baldetti came into power, these TV companies are said to have benefited from official State advertising contracts worth millions. According to the revelations from the investigation, the two companies received 69 percent of the official advertising allocated. In March 2017, the Attorney General’s Office of Guatemala filed charges in this matter, in the case over “Cooptation of the State.” It is worth noting that the Secretariat of Communication of the Office of the President has ended the practice of using official advertising to award media outlets that provide favorable coverage and punish those that are critical.

During the on-site visit, the IACHR received information indicating that the government had started a process to implement land-based digital television broadcasting, which involves major regulatory decisions. The IACHR expresses its concern regarding the lack of a plan to organize the spectrum and assign frequencies in a way that allows the entry of new operators; to the contrary, press sources note that all the frequencies of the group that dominates television in Guatemala have been renewed.

The IACHR also expresses its serious concern about the lack of progress in terms of the obligation the State has assumed many times to legally recognize the community broadcasting sector and implement an effective allocation of licenses so that communities—especially indigenous communities—can manage their own radio stations and express themselves in their languages and promote their culture. In February 2016, the IACHR and its Office of the Special Rapporteur learned that a bill before the Guatemalan Congress—the “Community Broadcasting Act” (Bill 4087)—was in its third reading; it had been promoted by civil society and indigenous peoples in Guatemala to advance international standards. However, the draft legislation was quickly rejected by a majority of a Technical Group in Congress, which alleged that it lacked a technical basis and was an “untimely” and “unconstitutional” initiative.

With no legal political framework in place to effectively incorporate indigenous peoples into broadcasting, so-called “illegal” radio stations continue to be prosecuted. Although in some cases, it is unauthorized commercial radio stations that are reportedly targeted, in other cases prosecutions extend to broadcasting by indigenous communities, which keep small radio stations on the air despite the obstacles in terms of access to frequencies. The analogy of “theft” is reportedly being applied to bring criminal charges against media workers. The Mayan bar association [Asociación de Abogados y Notarios Mayas de Guatemala] reported to the Commission during the visit that 46 members of community media outlets have now been convicted based on such charges. 


The IACHR recognizes that the State of Guatemala in certain emblematic cases has demonstrated great capacity and commitment to take significant steps to safeguard human rights. In this regard, it is essential for the State to give priority to the adoption of measures on the following issues:

  • Provide COPREDEH and the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman with sufficient human and budgetary resources so they can comply with their mandates to the fullest.
  • Ratify the Inter-American Convention against All Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance; the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Forms of Intolerance; the Inter-American Convention on Protecting the Human Rights of Older Persons; and the Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights to Abolish the Death Penalty.

Truth, Justice, and Reparation

  • Redouble efforts to locate the whereabouts of those who went missing during the internal armed conflict and ensure prompt, serious, and impartial investigations in these cases.
  • Reinforce actions in the fight against impunity for human rights violations committed during the internal armed conflict, by undertaking prompt, thorough, and impartial investigations; punishing the perpetrators and masterminds; and providing redress to the victims.
  • Provide financial support to the National Civilian Police Archives.

Inequality and Discrimination

  • Continue efforts to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger and, particularly, adopt urgent measures to eliminate the serious problem of child malnutrition. In the specific case of women, children, and adolescents, design and implement programs and policies to prevent maternal and child mortality. In addition, ensure access to drinking water and other basic rights such as education and health for everyone.
  • Before granting concessions, licenses, or permits for exploration or exploitation of natural resources that affect the ancestral lands or territories of indigenous peoples and communities, ensure that a process of prior, free, and informed consultation is carried out with a view to obtaining their consent, in compliance with inter-American standards in this area. Also, establish a comprehensive policy that addresses the situation of discrimination that affects indigenous peoples and threatens their way of life. This policy should be prepared and executed with the participation of and in consultation with the indigenous peoples of Guatemala, respecting their ways of life and development plans, in line with relevant international law. The participation of indigenous women and indigenous children should also be taken into account throughout the process.
  • Create institutions to devise and develop policies for people of African descent, through a National Action Plan.
  • As a way to eradicate discrimination, promote the presence of women in decision-making positions—particularly, indigenous and Afro-descendant women—through affirmative action measures.
  • Take decisive measures to ensure that women who are victims of violence and discrimination have access to justice at every step of the legal process (accusation, investigation, and judicial proceedings), with information that is linguistically and culturally accessible, trained staff, specialized legal advice, and nearby services.
  • Adopt the necessary measures to discourage intolerance and abolish all laws that discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.
  • Adopt immediate measures to protect the collective intellectual property of indigenous women in terms of their clothing and designs that represent their traditional identity.

Access to Justice

  • Ensure that the judicial remedy of amparo and its application in Guatemala complies with inter-American standards on this subject.
  • Adopt constitutional justice system reforms as soon as possible to strengthen the judicial career track and nomination procedures, ensuring that these reforms comply with international standards.

Protection of Children

  • Adopt the necessary legislative measures and public policies to implement a comprehensive protection model that truly safeguards all rights of children and adolescents and creates the necessary institutional support to guarantee and protect their rights, with special emphasis on services geared toward children at the local level, providing sufficient human, material, and economic resources.
  • With respect to the high levels of institutionalization of children, revise laws, policies, and practices to ensure that they meet international standards, especially strengthening social policies that support families so they can offer their children adequate care, as well as other social policies to safeguard rights, such as those related to health, education, and nutrition. At the same time, ensure that there are clear regulations establishing that measures to separate a child from his or her family should be an exception and should be used for the shortest amount of time possible, only in circumstances specified in the law, with the decision subject to periodic review, in line with international standards.
  • Promote a model of alternative care for children who may need it, one that respects and safeguards their rights. Priority should be given to available family-style alternative care, preferably in the child’s own extended family or else in a substitute family—and only when it is in the child’s best interests, a specialized center that can provide personalized attention adapted to his or her needs for protection. The State should do away with the model of large residential institutions, which goes against international standards.

Citizen Security

  • Develop policies for prevention that address the root causes of violence and high levels of crime and that aim to substantially reduce crime and ensure that Guatemalans can live in a country free of violence.
  • Ensure that private security companies and their agents are effectively regulated and controlled, and register and punish those who do not comply with the regulations; also, strictly control firearms.

Human Rights Defenders and Justice System Operators

  • Approve and urgently implement a public policy to protect human rights defenders, with a proper legal basis. This policy should include the implementation of a comprehensive protection program that includes adequate and effective special measures that are suitable to deal with the danger the person is facing. This program should incorporate a risk analysis model that makes it possible to determine each rights defender’s needs for protection, incorporating a gender perspective, for example, or one geared toward groups that are in an especially vulnerable situation.
  • Strengthen judicial independence in the country through selection and nomination processes that meet inter-American standards and that in any case aim to select and appoint justice operators based on merit and professional qualifications. To strengthen the independence of those who will serve at the highest levels of the judiciary, Public Prosecutor’s Office, or Public Defender’s Office, the Commission considers it appropriate to hold hearings or public meetings in which citizens, civil society organizations, and others who are interested can become informed about the selection criteria, challenge candidates, and express their concerns or their support.
  • Adopt the necessary measures to ensure that justice operators can do their work impartially and independently, with respect for the principles of separation of powers and free from any type of threat or pressure. To that end, strengthen the work of the Unit on Crimes against Justice Operators, recognizing the importance of their role in guaranteeing the right of access to justice and due process.
  • Ensure that authorities or third parties do not manipulate the punitive power of the State and its institutions of justice to harass human rights defenders and justice system operators. Along the same lines, they should refrain from making public statements or assertions that stigmatize or discredit human rights defenders, journalists, or indigenous authorities or leaders by suggesting that they are acting improperly or illegally simply for doing their work as human rights defenders.

Freedom of Expression

  • Adopt legislative measures and public policies to recognize community outlets and provide them with access to broadcasting frequencies and licenses; meanwhile, refrain from going after community radio stations with criminal charges.
  • With respect to the program to protect journalists and members of the media—whose creation was announced by the President of the Republic during the Commission’s visit—the IACHR emphasizes the importance for the program to conform to international parameters and be designed in consultation with civil society organizations, journalists, and media workers.
  • Adopt measures to guarantee the exercise of freedom of expression, pluralism, and diversity in the process of the digital transition. Such measures include ensuring that procedures that involve access to or renewal or revocation of licenses meet inter-American standards; recognizing the different media sectors; promoting diverse, new operators; and regulating the limits of media ownership concentration.
  • Adopt clear and objective rules for allocating official advertising to media outlets.

Persons in Custody of the State

  • In terms of juvenile justice, adopt the necessary measures to ensure that applicable inter-American standards are followed. Specifically, implement in practice a juvenile justice model that establishes deprivation of liberty as a measure of last resort and for the shortest time possible. It should not be meant to retaliate but to rehabilitate, with adequate premises and specialized professionals who can implement socio-educational and rehabilitation programs that represent an effective opportunity for the positive, constructive reintegration of adolescents and that prevent recidivism.
  • To make reasonable use of incarceration, the Commission urges the State to promote, regulate, and apply alternatives to deprivation of liberty and take steps to encourage social reintegration by strengthening measures such as reduced penalties and eligibility for alternatives to prison.
  • With respect to pretrial detention, the Commission calls to mind that this measure should consider, as a starting point, that a person has the right to presumption of innocence, and should take into account that this measure should be used only as an exception and that it should be applied in accordance with the criteria of legality, necessity, and proportionality. To reduce the use of pretrial detention, the IACHR recommends promoting alternative measures, such as mechanisms for electronic monitoring, house arrest, and restorative criminal justice programs. As to electronic monitoring, the Commission urges the State to ensure that the implementation of these mechanisms takes into account the economic situation of the accused, that it is in line with criteria of substantive equality, and that it does not discriminate against those who do not have the economic means to cover the costs.
  • Considering the frequent suspension of court hearings in Guatemala, and to address various difficulties that could arise in transporting people who are incarcerated to the courts, the IACHR recommends that the State implement “jail hearings,” in which judicial authorities go to detention centers to hold certain proceedings.
  • Uphold the right of patients at the Federico Mora Hospital to live in the community, through the establishment of outpatient services and support, urgently defining a deinstitutionalization strategy and allocating sufficient resources to develop such services.

Internally Displaced Persons, Migrants, and Refugees, and Forced Evictions

  • Adopt measures to prevent the causes that lead to forced migration of persons; adopt measures for protection, humanitarian assistance, and lasting solutions for the internally displaced; and ensure that migrants and those in need of international protection can leave the country.
  • Issue implementing regulations for the Migration Code and other laws related to people in the context of human mobility, in accordance with the norms and standards of the inter-American human rights system, in the framework of a process that includes the participation of civil society organizations and other relevant actors.
  • Guarantee access to justice for migrants and their families, and implement measures to search for and identify missing migrants.
  • Implement effective measures that ensure the effective exercise of human rights and the reintegration into society of people who have been deported or returned.
  • Ensure that any evictions that are carried out follow human rights norms and standards and the principles of exceptionality, legality, proportionality, and suitability, to promote social welfare and guarantee solutions to the displaced population that could consist of restitution and return, resettlement, and rehabilitation or fair compensation.
  • In keeping with the Peace Agreements, promote the creation of an agrarian and environmental jurisdiction within the judiciary, through applicable legislation passed by the Congress of the Republic.
  • For those who have been evicted, adopt measures to ensure the protection of their dignity, life, and safety, ensuring at a minimum access to food, drinking water and sanitation, housing, clothing, medical services, means of subsistence, and access to justice, as well as ensuring access to humanitarian assistance and independent monitoring.

Meetings during the On-Site Visit

During the on-site visit, the Commission held meetings with the President of the Republic of Guatemala, Jimmy Morales Cabrera; the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carlos Raul Morales Moscoso; the Minister of the Interior, Francisco Rivas Lara, and the Deputy Minister of the Interior, Ricardo Guzmán; the Minister of Defense, Williams Mansilla; the Deputy Minister of Public Health and Social Assistance, Adrián Estuardo Chávez; the President of the Presidential Coordinating Commission for Executive Policy on Human Rights (COPREDEH), Víctor Hugo Godoy; the Secretary of Communication of the Office of the President, Alfredo Brito, and the Deputy Secretary of Communication, Luz Arminda Barrios; the Secretary for Social Welfare, Cándida Rabanales, and staff from that agency; Supreme Court Justices Delia Marina Dávila Salazar, María Eugenia Morales de Sierra, and Josué Felipe Baquiax Baquiax; the President of the Constitutional Court, José Francisco de Mata Vela; Constitutional Court Judges Dina Ochoa, Gloria Porras, María Consuelo Porras, María Cristina Fernández, Bonerge Mejía, Neftaly Aldana, Henry Comte, and José Mynor Par; the President of the Congress of the Republic, Óscar Chinchilla; the Second Vice-President, Eduardo Ramiro de Matta; the Third Vice-President of Congress, Marvin Orellana; the President of the congressional Human Rights Commission, Patricia Sandoval; Deputies Nineth Montenegro, Sandra Móran, Amílcar de Jesús Pop Ac, Boris España, Jaime José Regalado, and Oliverio García Rodas; the Attorney General of the Republic, Thelma Aldana Hernández; the Human Rights Prosecutor in the Public Prosecutor’s Office, Hilda Pineda; the Human Rights Ombudsman, José Eduardo de León Duque; the Ombudsman-elect, Jordan Rodas, and Staff from the Office of the Human Rights Ombdusman; the Rapporteur for the National Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture, Silvia Villalta; the head of the Defender’s Office for Indigenous Women, María Roselia Pop Cal, and staff from that agency; the Deputy Secretary for Peace, Hugo Rigoberto Casasola; the Deputy Secretary for Planning, Luis Ovando; the Interim Director of the Prison System, Mirna Fajardo; the Director of the General Archive of Central America, Anna Carla Ericastilla; the Executive Secretary of the PDH Commission on Access to Public Information, Violeta Mazariegos; the Superintendent of Telecommunications, José Raúl Solares Chiu, and staff from his agency; the Coordinator of the National Police Historical Archive, Gustavo Meoño; the Executive Director of the National Reparations Program, Rodolfo Martínez Mérida; prosecutors Rosa Lidia Navarro and Luis Daniel Ordoñez; Congressman Leocadio Juracán; and the Director of the Public Criminal Defense Institute (IDPP), Nydia Arévalo Flores Abril. The Commission also met with staff from the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources; the Ministry of Education; the Ministry of Energy and Mines; the Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance; the Ministry of Labor; the Secretariat for Food and Nutritional Security of the Office of the President; the Presidential Secretariat for Women; the Secretariat against Sexual Violence, Exploitation, and Human Trafficking; the Executive Secretariat of the Commission against Drug Addiction and Illegal Drug Trafficking; the National Council of Protected Areas; the Presidential Commission against Discrimination and Racism; the National Commission on Children and Adolescents; the National Adoption Council; the Registry of Cadastral Information; the General Registry of Property; and the Secretariat for Agrarian Affairs, as well as judges who enforce sentences for adolescent offenders. The Commission also met with prosecutors from the Unit for Crimes against Journalists in the Office of the Public Prosecutor.

In its visits to departments of Guatemala, the IACHR met with the following authorities: the Governor of Alta Verapaz, Estela Ventura; the Governor of Huehuetenango, Ramiro Estuardo Varillas; the Mayor of Cobán, Koky Córdoba; the Mayor of San Andrés, Milton Méndez; the Municipal Corporation of Santa Eulalia; the District Prosecutor of Alta Verapaz, Lauro Oliver Ruiz; Iliana Alvarado, the head of COPREDEH for Huehuetenango; Miriam Judith Juárez, the head of COPREDEH for Petén; members of the Municipal Corporation of Santa Eulalia; and personnel from the Armed Forces of Guatemala, the National Civilian Police, and the National Council of Protected Areas.             

The IACHR also met with the following civil society organizations: 8Tijax, 12 Comunidades San Juan Sacatepéquez, A.B.J.P. Rabinal, AAICAVCAI Cobán, Abogados Moyoy, Acoguate, Aconapamy, Actenesta Social, ActionAid Guatemala, Actividad Central, ADICI, ADICAV, AFAIDEL, AFAMIDEG, AIN, Aj Tierra – Xbenil San Pedro, Aldea Chirrequim, Aldea Cocop, Aldeas Infantiles SOS, ANH Chisec de Alta Verapaz, APCU, Articulación de Mujeres, Articulación Nacional, Asamblea Nacional de las Abuelas Comadronas del Movimiento Nim Alaxik, Asocación MIRIAM, Asíes, Asociación Camilo Pacheco, Asociación Pro-Municipio Zona Reyna, Asociación Abogados Mayas, Asociación Achi, Asociación Ajkemab Rech K aslemal, Asociación de Comunidades Campesinas para el Desarrollo Integral del Municipio de La Libertad (ACCODIL), Asociación Centro de Análisis Forense y Ciencias Aplicadas (CAFCA), Asociación Awil Ricd, Asociación Ch’orti Nuevo Día, Asociación Cristiana de Guatemala, Asociación de Abogados Mayas, Asociación de Estudios de Investigación y Estudios Sociales (ASIES), Asociación de Generadores con Energía Renovable (AGER), Asociación Kumol, Asociación de Lambda, Asociación de Migrantes Desaparecidos, Asociación de Servicios Comunitarios de Salud (ASECSA), Asociación Familiares de Detenidos-Desaparecidos de Guatemala (FAMDEGUA), Asociación de Familias de Migrantes Desaparecidos, Asociación Fomento, Asociación Gente Positiva, Asociación Guatemalteca de Hipertensión Pulmonar, Asociación Guatemalteca de Pacientes con Enfermedades Autoinmunes Reumáticas (ARTRILUP), Asociación Iseri Ibagari, Asociación Ixmukane, Asociación K´amalb´e , Asociación Kumool lsnJncoTzal Quiché, Asociación La Alianza, Asociación MOLOJ, Asociación Mujeres Transformando el Mundo, Asociación Nuevo Día, Asociación Organización de Ayuda Solidaria contra la injusticia Social (OASIS), Asociación para el Desarrollo Integral de las Víctimas de la Violencia en las Verapaces, Maya Achí  (ADIVIMA), Asociación Héroes de Esperanza, Asociación Pop No'j, Asociación Pro-Municipios, Asociación PROCRECE, Asociación SOMOS, Asociación Vidas Paralelas, Asolación de Fomento para el Desarrollo Integral, Asociación Voces por la Justicia, ASOCDENEB, Azoder Cobán, Bancada Convergencia, Bufete de Derechos Humanos, Bufete jurídico de Derechos Humanos  (BDH), Cahibón, Caschibal Instancia, Campaña Guatemala Sin Hambre, Camma Addarti, Campaña Libertad, Campaña Guatemala Sin Nombre, Carcha Aldexalital, Carchá AV, Cardina Chiseo SANK, Casa de la Cultura 4 de Noviembre, Casa del Migrante Ala, Catholic Relief Services, CCC Nuevo Día, CECOMS, CEIFA, Central General de Trabajadores de Guatemala (CGTG), CCP Arusa, Centro de Acción Legal, Ambiental y Social de Guatemala (CALAS), Centro de Análisis Forense y Ciencias Aplicadas (CAFCA), Centro de Capacitación Misional de Guatemala (MTC), Centro de Estudios de Guatemala (CEG), Centro Internacional para Investigaciones en Derechos Humanos (CIIDH), Centro para la Acción de la Responsabilidad Social en Guatemala (CENTRARSE), Centro para la Acción Legal en Derechos Humanos (CALDH), Centro para la Defensa de la Constitución, Centro por la Justicia y el Derecho Internacional (CEJIL), Chamil Chamelco Codevi, Chamelco A.V. SANK, CHILDFUND, Childfund Guatemala, Cheachamil, Chicoyguito CPT, Çhisee A.V., Chiquixhi Corchá, Chiol Saq.Be Cahbón, CHILDHOPE, Children’s Fund, Chool SabeChikajbom, CICIDE, Cladem Enlace Guatemala, Cocahich, CODEMI, Colectivo 8 Tijax, CONSEDONC, Colectivo Artesana, Colectivo Independiente LGTBI, Colectivo Madreselva, Colectivo Vida Independiente, Colectivo de Educación, Colectivo Vida Independiente, Comisión de Verificación de Violaciones a Derechos Humanos de Laguna del Tigre y Sierra de Lacandón, Comisión de Derechos Humanos en Guatemala, Comisión Interamericana de los Derechos Humanos (CILDH), Comisión Nacional contra el Maltrato Infantil (CONACMI), Comisión por la Defensa de la Vida y la Naturaleza, Comité de Campesinos del Altiplano (CCDA), Comité de Familias Desaparecidas, Comité Coordinador de Asociaciones Agrícolas, Comerciales, Industriales y Financieras (CACIF), Comité de Desarrollo Campesino (CODECA), Comité de Familias Independientes DS, Comité de Migrantes Desaparecidos, Comité de Unidad Campesina (CUC), Comité Pro ciegos y sordos, Comunidad Chabán, Comunidad Cristiana Guerreros de Dios (CCGD), Comunidad de Población en Resistencia (CPR), Comunidad Indígena de Comunidades, Comunidad Judía Lev Tahor, Comunidades de Laguna del Tigre y Sierra de Lacandón, Comunidad Indígena la Campana, Comunidades Afectadas por TRECSA, Comunidades Petén, CONACMI, Concejo Mam, Confederación de Unidad Sindical de Guatemala (CUSG), Consejo del Pueblo Maya (CPO), Consejo Maya Achi, Consejo Nacional de Comadronas Mum Alaxik, Convergencia Nacional Maya Waqib' Kej, Convergencia por los Derechos Humanos, Cooperación Indígena para el Desarrollo Integral (COINDI), Coordinadora de Víctimas (CODEVI), Coordinación de Acompañamiento Internacional en Guatemala (ACOGUATE), Coordinadora Central Campesina Chortí Nuevo Día, Coordinadora de Cooperativas y ONGs (CONGCOOP), Coordinadora Institucional de Promoción por los Derechos de la Niñez (CIPRODENI), Corporación  Energía y Renovación, Delegación de Comunidades de Petén, CRS, Derechos Humanos El Rosario, DSU JUL, D.Disi, Educación para Todos (EPT), EDUCO Verde & Azul, El Prado Ixcan, El Recuerdo Ixcan, El Refugio de la Niñez, El Rosario Corcha, Equipo de Estudios Comunitarios y Acción Psicosocial (ECAP), ECAP Chimaltenango, ECAP Alta Verapaz, Coyombalam, Estor, Estrella Polar, Familia Nos Duelen 56, Famia Q’eqchí, Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos de Guatemala (FAMDEGUA), Fe y Alegría, Federación Guatemalteca de Escuelas Radiofónicas, Foro Nacional de la Mujer, Freedom Guatemala, Fundación de Antropología Forense de Guatemala (FAFG), Fundación Esperanza y Prosperidad (FUNDAESPRO), Fundación Guatemalteca para Niños con Sordoceguera Alex (FUNDAL), Fundación Guillermo Tonello, Fundación Justicia y Género, Fundación Marista, Fundación Myrna Mack, Fundación para el Desarrollo y Fortalecimiento de las organizaciones de base (FUNDEBASE), Fundación para la Justicia y el Estado Democrático de Derecho (FJEDD), Fundación Sobrevivientes, Fundación Tierra Madre, FUNDESA, Gente Positiva, Gremial de Transporte Extraurbano de Pasajeros  (GRETEXPA), GRETEXPA, Grupo de Apoyo Mutuo (GAM), Grupo Guatemalteco de Mujeres (GGM), Grupo Interdisciplinario por los Derechos Sexuales y Reproductivos, Grupo Multidisciplinario para la Defensa de los Derechos Sexuales y Reformativos en Guatemala, Human Rights Defenders Project, Human Rights For Everyone, Humanistas Guatemala, Iglesia Luterana en Guatemala (ILGUA), Iglesia luterana Ilubua, Ixmukané, IIHAA/USAC, ILUGUA, Impunity Watch, Ingenieros Ixcan, Instancia Cobán, Instituto Centroamericano de Estudios Fiscales (ICEFI), Instituto de Colaboración y Educación Familiar (ICEF), INCIDEJOVEN, Instituto de Estudios Comparados en Ciencias Penales de Guatemala (ICCPG), Instancia Mujeres, Instituto de Investigaciones, Escuela de Historia USAC, Instituto de Protección Social, Instituto de Investigación y Proyección Social sobre Dinámicas Globales y Territoriales de la Universidad Rafael Landívar (IDGT - URL), Internews-Consultora, Ixmukare, Ixtzunun, JOC, Jóvenes contra la Violencia, Jóvenes por Guatemala, Asociación La Alianza (ALA), Jotaj, Las Minas, Ixcan, Comisión Internacional de Apostolado en Educación Jesuita, Comisión de Investigación, Fundación Guatemalteca para Niños con Sordoceguera Alex (FUNDAL), La Masa, La Niñez es Primero, Lambda, Ladvidud, Lotración El Poso, Ixcan, Mama Maquín Entre Ríos Petén, Mesa Nacional para las Migraciones en Guatemala MENAMIG, Mercedes I, Mercy Corps, Mesa de Transformación, Misioneros Scalabrinianos, Misioneros de San Carlos, Scalabrinianos, Monte Olivo CUC, Movimiento de Mujeres Indígenas Tzununija, Movimiento Nacional Comadronas Nim Alaxik, Movimiento Nacional de Tejedoras, Movimiento Nacional de Víctimas, Muqb’ilha, MUNDIBAT, Municipalidades Indígena de Palín, MTC, Municipalidad de Sololá, Mujawil Qij, Mujeres de Afedes, Mujeres de Ate Oles, Mujeres Transformando el Mundo, Na’Ch’ooch, Nuevo Horizonte, Nuevo Paraíso Ixcan, Observatorio de Salud Sexual y Reproductiva (OSAR), Ocho Tajix, Oficina de Derechos Humanos del Arzobispado de Guatemala (ODHAG), ODAN, Organismo NALEB, Organizaciones Coban, Organización Líder y Pionera para las Mujeres Trans en Guatemala (OTRANS), Organización Maya Qeqchi, Organización Mujeres, Organización Negra Guatemalteca (ONEGUA), Organización para el Desarrollo Integral Sostenible para Oriente y Guatemala (ODISOG), Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), Parlamento Xinka, Pastoral de la Tierra, Dieciséis de San Marcos, Pastoral de Movilidad Humana de la Conferencia Episcopal de Guatemala (PMH-CEG), Para Todas y Todos de Guatemala, Pastoral de la Sierra San Marcos, Paz Joven Guatemala, Paz Para el Mundo, Peace Brigades International (PBI), Plan International Guatemala, PAMI, Planned Parenthood Global (PP Global), Plataforma contra la Impunidad, Plataforma de Organizaciones para Personas con Discapacidad, Plataforma Internacional contra la Impunidad, Pieza Clave, Pop Noj, Prensa Comunitaria, Programa de Atención, MENACI, Movilización e Incidencia por la Niñez y la Adolescencia (PAMI), Programa de Protección y Seguridad Infantil y Juvenil, Programa de Refugiados para Niños Menores Centroamericanos (CAM), Promoción y Desarrollos Hídricos (PDH), Proyecto Justicia, Equidad y Género, (USAID), Parulha CUC, Pastoral Ixalogica, Radio Xomilbe, Red de No Violencia contra Mujer, Región 18 Chircan, Renace, Radio Comunitaria Siwan Tinamit, Radio Única, Radio Snuq' Jolom Konob', Radios Comunitarias, Raxil Chinam San Pedro, Red Afroamericana XXI, Red de información Humanitaria para América Latina (TROCAIRE), Red de la No Violencia contra las Mujeres (REDNOVI), Red de Mujeres Afrodescendientes, Red de Organización de Víctimas Nacionales, Red Legal de Derechos Humanos, Red Nacional de la Diversidad sexual en Guatemala (REDNADS), Red Nacional de Víctimas, Red Niña Niño, Red No Violencia, REDVADS, Save the Children, San Cristobal, San Francisco Las Mercedes Ancestrales, Sank, Sindicatos Globales, Seguridad en Democracia en Guatemala (SEDEM), Seacte Coban, Sechaj A.V, Sechaj A.V SANK, Sechaj, Raxizilio Sank, Secretaria Cocode Aldea Rosario Ochimp, Setux Setzac, Sejax, Delegación Guatemala (ICM), Sobrevivencia Cultural, TRACAIRE, Tres Ríos, Ixcan, Tz’ununijal, UBAQ Garífuna, Tz’ununija´, UAUX BE, UCP Santa Cruz, UVOC, UDEFEGUA, Unidad de capacitación (UNICAP), Unión Sindical de Trabajadores de Guatemala (UNSITRAGUA), Universidad Rafael Landívar (URL), Vida Independiente, Vidas Paralelas Quetzaltenago, Waqib’ Kij, World Vision Guatemala, World Vision International, Xalub’e Sepop, Xbenil Salrouneuto Werig, Yalicoq Chisec, Yuwa Chiodeh, ZAPP.

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 defense of 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. 114A/17