By raising the possibility that an outdated amnesty decree could apply to a former military leader’s genocide charges, Guatemala’s Constitutional Court is not merely going against the country’s own laws, but also breaching the widely accepted if still nascent norm of international human rights law that prohibits amnesties for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
On July 31st, the Guatemala City offices of Frank La Rue, the Special Rapporteur of the United Nations for Freedom of Opinion and Expression, and the Central Institute for the Study of Social Democracy (DEMOS) were both broken into. While the motivation and identity of the individuals responsible remain unclear, these break-ins follow a series of public threats made against human rights defenders in recent weeks. Freedom House welcomes the announcement that Guatemalan authorities are opening an investigation into the incident and urges them to bring those responsible to justice.
Freedom of Association, Freedom of Expression, Human Rights Defense, United Nations
The May 10 conviction of General Efraín Ríos Montt in Guatemala for crimes against humanity and genocide is a historic and symbolic step towards addressing crimes of the past. Freedom House applauds the conviction, which is the first ruling of its kind against a former head of state by a national court, and hopes that it will help to bring closure for the families of those victimized by his brutal regime.
Civil Society, Freedom of Association, Human Rights Defense, Rule of Law