Article by PBI-Canada
On September 25, Peace Brigades International-Switzerland Advocacy Coordinator Kim-Mai Vu presented a joint PBI-Franciscans International statement on the human rights situation in Guatemala to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.
“In Guatemala, 677 attacks against human rights defenders were documented between January and June 2020, nearly three times more compared to previous years. 481 of these attacks have been processes of criminalization. Indigenous and land and environmental human rights defenders have been disproportionally targeted by these processes.
This month, the Interamerican Commission for Human Rights alerted on the increasing number of assassinations of human rights defenders in Guatemala and highlighted that all the latest victims had been defending the right to land and territory of indigenous communities.
Moreover, during the Covid-19 pandemic and in the context of the declaration of States of Prevention, curfew and the deployment of military forces, several violent and illegal evictions of indigenous communities, carried out by private armed actors, took place, especially in the department of Alta Verapaz. Whilst not tending to this situation, the government decided to close the Secretary of Agrarian Affairs, the state entity in charge of seeking negotiated solutions to agrarian conflicts.
We call on the Human Rights Council to pay close attention to the human rights situation in Guatemala and specifically that of human rights defenders.
The Council must urge the Guatemalan State to put an end to attacks against defenders, end impunity for their perpetrators and urgently fulfill its commitment and obligation to the Interamerican Court Sentence from 2014 to develop a Public Policy for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders.
Furthermore, the Council must urge the Guatemalan State to investigate and bring to justice the authors of evictions by private actors.”
To watch the video of this presentation, please click here (item 43 at 1:06:42).
Peace Brigades International-Switzerland regularly presents statements to the Human Rights Council in collaboration with PBI field projects and allies and has had consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) since 2014.