Three women HRDs sentenced to two and a half years in prison


Judicial harassment in Guatemala moved beyond unlawful arrests and is now in a stage of sentences that will leave human rights defenders in prison for years. The Iniciativa Mesoamericana de Mujeres Defensoras de Derechos Humanos (IM-Defensoras), reported that three women HRDs, Aura Margarita Valenzuela, Mariela Alvarez Sucup y Maria Magdalena Zarat Cuzán were sentenced to two and a half years in prison convicted of land usurpation due to an incident where the three were protecting a group of families that were evicted from their settlement in March 2017.

In a separate development, on 9th November 2018, a judge sentenced land rights defender Bernardo Caal to seven years and four months in prison for “illegal detention”. This decision caused outrage in Guatemala given that Caal is an activist protecting the land rights of the q’eqchi community and had been previously accused of other crimes that were not proven.