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.
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.
Freedom House is concerned by Guatemalan security forces’ excessive use of force to repress a social protest in Totonicapán, Guatemala last week and calls for a thorough investigation into the incident. Freedom House urges the Guatemalan government to use peaceful means to maintain order during protests, and to promote dialogue with indigenous communities.