Guatemala

Public vilification of Indigenous peoples and criminalisation of environmental defenders

On 16th July 2020, Maya Q’eqchi Indigenous leader Bernardo Caal Xol was declared a prisoner of conscience by human rights organisation Amnesty International. Bernardo Caal Xol has defended the rights of communities in Santa María de Cahabón, department of Alta Verapáz, which have resisted the construction of a hydroelectric dam in the region. Read more

Public vilification of Indigenous peoples and criminalisation of environmental defenders

Indigenous defender killed and others threatened and attacked in Guatemala

On 15th June 2020, Indigenous land defender Medardo Alonzo Lucero was found dead with signs of torture in Olopa, Chiquimula department. Read more

Indigenous defender killed and others threatened and attacked in Guatemala

Journalists denounce Guatemala government hostility towards the press

On 12th April 2020, more than a hundred journalists from Guatemala published a public complaint denouncing repeated hostile behaviour from president Alejandro Giammattei and other public officials, through acts to intimidate, discredit and censor the press. Read more  |  Read in Spanish

Journalists denounce Guatemala government hostility towards the press

NGO oversight law limits and restricts freedom of association in Guatemala

On 11th February 2020, the Guatemalan Congress approved a decree (No. 4-2020) which would impose sweeping controls over civil society, restricting freedom of association in the country. Favourable legislators say the reform of the Law of Non-governmental Organisations for Development (Ley de Organizaciones No Gubernamentales para el Desarrollo) enables “transparency and oversight”, but critics argue it establishes harsh sanctions which authorise the arbitrary closure of organisations. Read more  |  Read in Spanish

NGO oversight law limits and restricts freedom of association in Guatemala

Jimmy Morales' presidency ends with significant setbacks to freedom of expression in Guatemala

On 18th December 2019, the offices of LGBTI youth association Somos Jóvenes Diversos en Acción (SOMOS) were raided in Guatemala City. Unknown persons broke into their offices overnight and took property and documents belonging to the association. Read more  |  Read in Spanish

Jimmy Morales' presidency ends with significant setbacks to freedom of expression in Guatemala

Guatemalan ombudsman warns about deterioration of freedom of expression

On 6th November 2019, unidentified men shot and killed human rights defender Manuel Pérez Hernández at his home in the community Agua Mecate de San Pedro Pínula, Jalapa department. Manuel Pérez was a community defender and social leader of Comité de Desarrollo Campesino (Peasant Development Committee - CODECA), which advocates for land reform.

On 2nd November 2019, Guatemala’s Ombudsman Jordán Rodas published a statement on the need to strengthen protection for reporters, creating a framework based on the United Nations Action Plan on the Safety of Journalists. Between May and August 2019, in the context of the country’s electoral campaign, there were 39 incidents where freedom of expression was violated. At the end of October, a group of union workers attacked reporters covering their meeting.

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Guatemalan ombudsman warns about deterioration of freedom of expression

Two environmental defenders killed in one week in Guatemala

On 7th September 2019, environmental and community activist Diana Isabel Hernández was shot and killed by unidentified persons while participating in a religious procession in her community. Only days later, on 14th September 2019, land and human rights defender Paulina Cruz Ruíz was shot and killed by unidentified gunmen.

In the same period, a protest by members of the Xinka indigenous community ended in violence and 16 arrests in Jutiapa. Finally, Guatemala's Journalists Association has expressed concern about changes to the Public Prosecution Unit in charge of crimes against reporters. The Association also published a report on Freedom of Expression during Guatemala's 2019 elections. This update covers the period between 05/08/2019 to 20/10/2019. Read more  |  Read in Spanish

Two environmental defenders killed in one week in Guatemala

Human rights defenders' work continues to be delegitimised in Guatemala

Amnesty International published a report on Guatemala called "Last chance for justice", which describes the worrying situation of human rights defenders in the country. According to Amnesty’s analysis, over the past two years the highest Guatemalan authorities have taken a series of measures to halt the last decade’s advances in access to justice. In this period, human rights defenders faced continuous threats, delegitimisation , stigmatisation, intimidation and attacks. Read more

Human rights defenders' work continues to be delegitimised in Guatemala

Freedom of expression and human rights defenders remain vulnerable in Guatemala

On 6th May 2019, Santiago Botón, a correspondent for Venezuelan channel Telesur, was harassed while filming a protest in Ixcán, El Quiché department. On 14th May 2019, Guatemalan presidential candidate Sandra Torres withdrew a judicial complaint against a group of editors of independent newspaper El Periódico. On 9th May 2019, a Guatemalan court had ordered the newspaper to stop publishing any information on Torres due to a lawsuit under the country’s feminicide law.

This update also links two new reports: one on the use of social networks in defamation campaigns, and another on the situation of HRDs in Guatemala. Read more

Freedom of expression and human rights defenders remain vulnerable in Guatemala

Abelino Chub Caal released amid increasing attacks against HRDs

On 26th April 2019, the land rights defender Abelino Chub Caal was found not guilty for charges of 'aggravated land grabbing' (usurpación agravada), 'arson' (incendio), 'coercion' (coacción), 'illicit association' (asociación ilícita) and belonging to 'illicit armed groups' (agrupaciones ilegales de gente armada). He had been held in detention for over 800 days since his initial arrest. Read more

Abelino Chub Caal released amid increasing attacks against HRDs