Guatemala

 

  • Attacks against human rights defenders in Colombia, Guatemala and Honduras

     

    Statement at the 40th Session of the UN Human Rights Council
    Response to country reports from the High Commissioner and Secretary General

    CIVICUS is extremely concerned about attacks against human rights defenders across Colombia, Honduras and Guatemala, of which governments of these counties show little sign of adequately addressing.

    In Colombia, increased violence against human rights defenders took the lives of 110 people in 2018. 20 were members of indigenous or afro-Colombia communities. Delays in implementing the peace agreement has fueled further risk, especially in rural areas which have been most affected by conflict.  We are concerned by the alarming increase in the number of threats and attacks against journalists, and we call on the government of Colombia to accelerate implementation of the peace agreement which would expand civic space.

    In Honduras human rights defenders are routinely attacked, criminalized, harassed and targeted by smear campaigns. We are also deeply concerned by the excessive use of force by law enforcement officials, particularly in contexts of protests. We call on the government of Honduras to adopt a comprehensive, rights-based and gender-responsive policy for the protection of human rights defenders and to reform laws which criminalise them, including the overly-broad law on terrorism.

    In Guatemala, too, the environment for human rights defenders continues to be hostile. Local organisation UDEFEGUA reported that at least 24 human rights defenders were killed in 2018. And since the beginning of 2019, there have been two further murders. Human rights defenders, especially indigenous leaders and land defenders, are subject to judicial harassment and intimidation. CIVICUS is concerned that in the approach to the June 2019 general elections, violence against defenders may increase.

    In all three cases, lack of investigations into crimes against human rights defenders has created a climate of impunity and increased risk. We call on all three governments to conduct investigations into attacks and ensure perpetrators are brought to justice, and to develop effective protection mechanisms and policies so that human rights can be defended without fear of reprisal.


    The CIVICUS Monitor rates the state of civicspace in Colombia as Repressed, Honduras as Repressed, Guatemala as Obstructed

     

  • CIVICUS UN Universal Periodic Review submissions on civil society space

    CIVICUS and its partners have submitted joint and stand-alone UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) submissions on 9 countries in advance of the 28th UPR session (November 2017). The submissions examine the state of civil society in each country, including the promotion and protection of the rights to freedom of association, assembly and expression and the environment for human rights defenders. We further provide an assessment of the States’ domestic implementation of civic space recommendations received during the 2nd UPR cycle over 4 years ago and provide a number of targeted follow-up recommendations.  

    Countries examined: Benin, Gabon, Guatemala, Pakistan, Peru, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Ukraine and Zambia.

     

  • Condenamos la criminalización de Claudia Samayoa y José Martínez en Guatemala

     

    Carta ajunta de la sociedad civil condenan la criminalización de los defensores de derechos humanos Claudia Samayoa y José Martínez

    Las organizaciones abajo firmantes estamos gravemente alarmadas por la criminalización de defensores y defensoras de los derechos humanos en Guatemala, incluida la reciente persecución judicial en contra de la Sra. Claudia Virginia Samayoa Pineda y el Sr. José Manuel Martínez Cabrera. La persecución judicial en contra de la Sra. Samayoa Pineda y el Sr. Martínez Cabrera es un ejemplo de la creciente intolerancia de las autoridades por la crítica independiente, incluyendo la labor de los defensores de la tierra y el medio ambiente.

    La Sra. Samayoa Pineda es Presidenta de la Junta Directiva de UDEFEGUA, una organización que brinda apoyo integral a defensores y defensoras de los derechos humanos en Centroamérica, y miembro de la Asamblea General de la OMCT; mientras que el Sr. Martínez Cabrera es miembro del Colectivo Justicia Ya, un movimiento ciudadano contra la corrupción y la impunidad. Ambos defensores de derechos humanos están siendo sometidos a una denuncia penal por parte del Sr. Nester Mauricio Vásquez Pimentel, en su calidad de Presidente de la Corte Suprema de Justicia (CSJ) y en representación de ésta, bajo la acusación de sustracción, desvío o supresión de correspondencia con agravación específica y tráfico de influencias. Es ampliamente reconocido que los grupos de la sociedad civil, incluidos la UDEFEGUA y el colectivo Justicia Ya, han sido fundamentales en la lucha contra la impunidad y la corrupción pública en el país.

    La acusación en contra de los defensores es una respuesta directa a una denuncia penal presentada por ellos el 17 de enero de 2019, en la cual solicitaron el retiro del privilegio de inmunidad de 11 jueces de la CSJ. La querella consideró que los 11 jueces estaban infringiendo la Constitución de Guatemala y cometiendo prevaricato al permitir acciones judiciales contra tres jueces de la Corte Constitucional. Junto con la denuncia penal presentada el 17 de enero de 2019, la Sra. Samayoa Pineda y el Sr. Martínez Cabrera anexaron una copia de la resolución de la CSJ que admite la acción judicial en contra de los jueces de la Corte Constitucional. A pesar de que este documento se había distribuido ampliamente en los medios de comunicación y en las redes sociales, el Presidente de la CSJ está acusando a estos dos defensores de los derechos humanos de obtenerlo ilegalmente.

    La criminalización de ambos defensores es otro ejemplo de las represalias dirigidas contra la sociedad civil organizada y las organizaciones de derechos humanos que se han movilizado contra una serie de ataques contra el marco institucional democrático de Guatemala. Entre otros intentos preocupantes de socavar las normas democráticas y el estado de derecho en Guatemala, resaltamos la persecución de los jueces del Tribunal Constitucional y la decisión unilateral de romper un acuerdo con la ONU para poner fin a la Comisión Internacional contra la Impunidad en Guatemala (CICIG). 

    En el marco de nuestro compromiso con la justicia y los derechos humanos, hacemos un llamado público al Estado guatemalteco para que:

    1. Ponga fin a todo acto de hostigamiento, uso indebido del derecho penal y criminalización en contra de personas y comunidades que defienden los derechos humanos en Guatemala, incluidos la Sra. Claudia Virginia Samayoa Pineda y el Sr. José Manuel Martínez Cabrera. En particular pedimos al Ministerio Público que desestime la denuncia penal contra ambos defensores de los derechos humanos. 
    2. Adopte las medidas más apropiadas para garantizar la seguridad e integridad física y psicológica de la Sra. Claudia Virginia Samayoa Pineda y el Sr. José Manuel Martínez Cabrera y de todas las personas defensoras de derechos humanos en Guatemala.  
    3. Proteja, respete y garantice la realización de los derechos humanos y las libertades fundamentales en todas las regiones de Guatemala, así como la vigencia de un Estado democrático de derecho.

    Organizaciones signatures:

    350.org
    Action Aid, Guatemala
    African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS), Sudan
    Alianza Frente a la Criminalización (AFC), Guatemala
    Asamblea socioambiental de General Roca . Argentina
    Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC)
    Asociación Ambiente y Sociedad - Colombia
    Asociación COMUNICARTE, Guatemala
    Asociación de Mujeres de Guatemala AMG, España
    Asociación de Trabajadoras del Hogar a Domicilio y de Maquila ATRAHDOM
    Asociación Interamericana para la Defensa del Ambiente (AIDA), Colombia
    Asociación para una Ciudadanía Participativa (ACI PARTICIPA) – Honduras
    Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia (AHRE), Ethiopia
    AWID (Association for Women’s Rights  in Development)
    Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), India
    Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR), Cambodia
    Carea e.V., Alemania
    Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL)
    Central General de Trabajadores de Guatemala
    Centro de Incidencia Ambiental de Panamá (CIAM)
    CIVICUS
    Civil Society Organizations Network for Development (RESOCIDE), Burkina Faso
    Colectivo CADEHO, Alemania
    Collectif Guatemala, Francia,
    Comité de Familiares de las Víctimas de los Sucesos de Febrero-Marzo de 1989 (COFAVIC) – Venezuela
    Comité de Solidaridad con los Presos Políticos (CSPP) – Colombia
    Comite Noruego de solidaridad con America Latina, Noruega
    Committee Against Torture, Russian Federation
    Comunidades en Resistencia Pacífica de La Puya, Guatemala
    Confederación Unitaria de Trabajadores de Honduras
    Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, US Provinces
    Consorcio para el diálogo parlamentario y la equidad Oaxaca A.C .- México
    Coordinadora Civil-Nicaragua
    Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos (CNDDHH) - Perú
    CUTH
    Derecho Ambiente y Recursos Naturales DAR (Perú)
    Dienst fuer  Mission, Oekumene und Entwicklung der Evangelischen Landeskirche Stuttgart, Alemania
    DKA Austria
    Federación Guatemalteca de Escuelas Radiofónicas (FGER), Guatemala
    Festivales Solidarios, Guatemala
    Foro de Organizaciones No Gubernamentales Internacionales en Guatemala (FONGI)
    Front Line Defenders
    Fundación Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (FARN)
    Fundación Ciudadanía Inteligente
    Fundación de Estudios para la Aplicación del Derecho (FESPAD)
    Fundación Karmel Juyup’, Guatemala
    Fundación para el Debido Proceso (DPLF)
    German Zepeda, Solidarity Center
    Global Witness
    Guatemala-Netz Zürich
    HondurasDelegation, Alemania
    Human Rights Defenders Network- SL
    Iglesia Luterana ILUGUA de Guatemala, Guatemala
    Impunity Watch, Países Bajos
    International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)-Kenya, Kenya
    International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF)
    International Land Coalition (ILC) - América Latina y el Caribe
    International Land Coalition (ILC) - Secretariat
    JASS (Just Associates)
    Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights, Philippines
    Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law (KIBHRL), Kazakhstan
    KM207 Guatemala-Suisse
    Latin America Working Group
    Ligue Burundaise des droits de l’homme Iteka, Burundi
    Maryknoll Affiliates
    Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
    Metro Center, Journalists Rights & Advocacy
    Movimiento por la Paz (MPDL)
    Mugen Gainetik, del País Vasco, España
    Oekumenische Initiative Mittelamerika e.V., Alemania
    Organización Mundial Contra la Tortura (OMCT) – Internacional
    OXFAM
    Oxfam America
    Peace Watch Switzerland (PWS), Suiza
    People in Need
    Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), Philippines
    Plataforma Internacional contra la Impunidad
    Presbyterian Church (USA)
    Presbyterian Peace Fellowship
    Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (PACTI), India
    Project on Organizing, Development, Education and Research (PODER)
    Protection International Mesoamérica
    Public Association “Spravedlivost” Jalal-Abad Human Rights Organization, Kyrgyzstan
    Public Verdict Foundation, Russian Federation
    Reacción Climática, Bolivia
    Red Latinoamericana y del Caribe por la Democracia
    Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights
    Seguridad en Democracia (SEDEM)
    Sindicato de trabajadoras domésticas de maquila, nexas y conexas SITRADOM
    Sisters of Mercy of the Americas - Institute Justice Team
    Solidaridad con Guatemala de Austria (Guatemala Solidarität Österreich)
    SOS-Torture/Burundi, Burundi
    The Fund for Global Human Rights
    UDEFEGUA, Guatemala
    UNSITRAGUA HISTÓRICA
    Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), United States
    West African Human Rights Defenders Network
    World Movement for Democracy
    ZEB / Zentrum fuer entwicklungspolitische Bildung der Evangelischen Landeskirche Stuttgart, Alemania
    Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum


    Individual signatures:

    Ana Lucía Ixchíu Hernández, Guatemala
    David O., ciudadano de los E.E.U.U.
    Dra. Lisette Aguilar Prado, Guatemala
    Esther Gut de Zurich, Suiza
    Eve Chayes Lyman
    Iduvina Hernández Batres, Guatemala
    Karla AVELAR activista trans refugiada
    Maya Alvarado Chávez, Guatemala
    Mirna Ramírez, Guatemala
    Padre Cirilo Santamaria Sáez, Guatemala
    Samwel Mohochi, Executive Director, ICJ Kenya
    Tony Smith, ciudadano de los E.E.U.U.
    Victoria Sanford, PhD, Director, Center for Human Rights & Peace Studies, Lehman College, City University of New York, United States

     

  • El Acuerdo de Escazú: Llega la hora cero para la protección de los defensores y defensoras ambientales en Centroamérica

    Por Natalia Gómez Peña, oficial de incidencia CIVICUS y Debora Leão, Oficial de investigación espacial cívica

    El próximo 26 de septiembre se cumple el plazo de dos años establecido para que los países de América Latina y el Caribe firmen el Acuerdo de Escazú, el primer tratado regional que promueve la democracia ambiental y ofrece protección específica a los defensores ambientales. A pesar de que el Salvador, Guatemala y Honduras participaron de las negociaciones del Tratado y estuvieron presentes en su adopción en marzo de 2018, hasta el momento solo Guatemala lo ha firmado. Los Presidentes de Honduras y el Salvador deben darle prioridad a la firma de este tratado y comprometerse de manera efectiva con la garantía del derecho a un medio ambiente sano y la protección de los defensores y defensoras ambientales.

    Lee el artículo completo: Prensa Comunitaria

     

  • Global civil society condemns the criminalisation of human rights defenders in Guatemala

     

    Joint letter condemns the criminalisation of human rights defenders Claudia Samayoa and José Martínez in Guatemala

    We the undersigned organizations are gravelly alarmed by the ongoing, targeted criminalization of human rights defenders in Guatemala including the recent judicial harassment of defenders Mrs. Claudia Virginia Samayoa Pineda and Mr. José Manuel Martínez Cabrera. The targeted judicial harassment of Ms. Samayoa Pineda and Mr. Martinez Cabrera is illustrative of the authorities’ growing intolerance of independent dissent, including defenders working on land and environmental defense.

    Mrs. Samayoa Pineda is President of the Board of Directors of UDEFEGUA, an organization which works to support human rights defenders in Central America, and member of the OMCT Executive Committee; while Mr. José Manuel Martínez Cabrera is a member of the Justicia Ya Collective, a citizen movement which opposes corruption and impunity. Both human rights defenders are being subjected to a criminal complaint by Mr. Nester Mauricio Vásquez Pimentel, in his capacity as President of the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) and representing the CSJ, on spurious charges of illegally obtaining a court document and influence peddling. It is broadly acknowledged that civil society groups, including UDEFEGUA and the Justicia Ya collective, have been instrumental in the fight against impunity and public corruption in the country.

    The criminal case against both defenders is a direct response to a complaint the defenders filed on January 17, 2019 requesting the withdrawal of the privilege of immunity from 11 judges of the CSJ. The complaint contends that the 11 judges breached the Constitution of Guatemala and committed judicial prevarication by allowing criminal proceedings against three judges from the Constitutional Court (CC). Along with the complaint presented to CSJ on January 17, 2019, Ms. Samayoa Pineda and Mr. Martínez Cabrera annexed a copy of the CSJ decision which allows the criminal proceedings against the CC judges to continue. Despite the fact that this document had been widely circulated in the national press and on social media, the President of the CSJ is accusing these two human rights defenders of illegally obtaining it.

    The criminalization of both defenders is yet another example of the targeted reprisals leveled against civil society organisations and human rights defenders that have mobilised against a series of attacks on Guatemala's democratic institutional framework. Among other worrying attempts to undermine democratic norms and the rule of law in Guatemala, the authorities have sought to delegitimize the judges of the Constitutional Court and unilaterally cancel an agreement with the UN ending the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). 

    In the framework of our commitment to justice and human rights, we make a public call to the Guatemalan Government to:

    1. End all acts of harassment, misuse of criminal law and criminalization against individuals and communities that defend human rights in Guatemala, including Ms. Claudia Virginia Samayoa Pineda and Mr. José Manuel Martínez Cabrera. In particular, we ask the Public Ministry to dismiss the criminal complaint against both human rights defenders.
    2. Adopt the most appropriate measures to guarantee the safety and physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Claudia Virginia Samayoa Pineda and Mr. José Manuel Martínez Cabrera and of all human rights defenders in Guatemala.
    3. Protect, respect and guarantee the realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms in all regions of Guatemala, as well as the validity of a democratic State.

    Organizaciones signatures:

    350.org
    Action Aid, Guatemala
    African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS), Sudan
    Alianza Frente a la Criminalización (AFC), Guatemala
    Asamblea socioambiental de General Roca . Argentina
    Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC)
    Asociación Ambiente y Sociedad - Colombia
    Asociación COMUNICARTE, Guatemala
    Asociación de Mujeres de Guatemala AMG, España
    Asociación de Trabajadoras del Hogar a Domicilio y de Maquila ATRAHDOM
    Asociación Interamericana para la Defensa del Ambiente (AIDA), Colombia
    Asociación para una Ciudadanía Participativa (ACI PARTICIPA) – Honduras
    Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia (AHRE), Ethiopia
    AWID (Association for Women’s Rights  in Development)
    Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), India
    Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR), Cambodia
    Carea e.V., Alemania
    Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL)
    Central General de Trabajadores de Guatemala
    Centro de Incidencia Ambiental de Panamá (CIAM)
    CIVICUS
    Civil Society Organizations Network for Development (RESOCIDE), Burkina Faso
    Colectivo CADEHO, Alemania
    Collectif Guatemala, Francia,
    Comité de Familiares de las Víctimas de los Sucesos de Febrero-Marzo de 1989 (COFAVIC) – Venezuela
    Comité de Solidaridad con los Presos Políticos (CSPP) – Colombia
    Comite Noruego de solidaridad con America Latina, Noruega
    Committee Against Torture, Russian Federation
    Comunidades en Resistencia Pacífica de La Puya, Guatemala
    Confederación Unitaria de Trabajadores de Honduras
    Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, US Provinces
    Consorcio para el diálogo parlamentario y la equidad Oaxaca A.C .- México
    Coordinadora Civil-Nicaragua
    Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos (CNDDHH) - Perú
    CUTH
    Derecho Ambiente y Recursos Naturales DAR (Perú)
    Dienst fuer  Mission, Oekumene und Entwicklung der Evangelischen Landeskirche Stuttgart, Alemania
    DKA Austria
    Federación Guatemalteca de Escuelas Radiofónicas (FGER), Guatemala
    Festivales Solidarios, Guatemala
    Foro de Organizaciones No Gubernamentales Internacionales en Guatemala (FONGI)
    Front Line Defenders
    Fundación Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (FARN)
    Fundación Ciudadanía Inteligente
    Fundación de Estudios para la Aplicación del Derecho (FESPAD)
    Fundación Karmel Juyup’, Guatemala
    Fundación para el Debido Proceso (DPLF)
    German Zepeda, Solidarity Center
    Global Witness
    Guatemala-Netz Zürich
    HondurasDelegation, Alemania
    Human Rights Defenders Network- SL
    Iglesia Luterana ILUGUA de Guatemala, Guatemala
    Impunity Watch, Países Bajos
    International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)-Kenya, Kenya
    International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF)
    International Land Coalition (ILC) - América Latina y el Caribe
    International Land Coalition (ILC) - Secretariat
    JASS (Just Associates)
    Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights, Philippines
    Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law (KIBHRL), Kazakhstan
    KM207 Guatemala-Suisse
    Latin America Working Group
    Ligue Burundaise des droits de l’homme Iteka, Burundi
    Maryknoll Affiliates
    Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
    Metro Center, Journalists Rights & Advocacy
    Movimiento por la Paz (MPDL)
    Mugen Gainetik, del País Vasco, España
    Oekumenische Initiative Mittelamerika e.V., Alemania
    Organización Mundial Contra la Tortura (OMCT) – Internacional
    OXFAM
    Oxfam America
    Peace Watch Switzerland (PWS), Suiza
    People in Need
    Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), Philippines
    Plataforma Internacional contra la Impunidad
    Presbyterian Church (USA)
    Presbyterian Peace Fellowship
    Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (PACTI), India
    Project on Organizing, Development, Education and Research (PODER)
    Protection International Mesoamérica
    Public Association “Spravedlivost” Jalal-Abad Human Rights Organization, Kyrgyzstan
    Public Verdict Foundation, Russian Federation
    Reacción Climática, Bolivia
    Red Latinoamericana y del Caribe por la Democracia
    Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights
    Seguridad en Democracia (SEDEM)
    Sindicato de trabajadoras domésticas de maquila, nexas y conexas SITRADOM
    Sisters of Mercy of the Americas - Institute Justice Team
    Solidaridad con Guatemala de Austria (Guatemala Solidarität Österreich)
    SOS-Torture/Burundi, Burundi
    The Fund for Global Human Rights
    UDEFEGUA, Guatemala
    UNSITRAGUA HISTÓRICA
    Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), United States
    West African Human Rights Defenders Network
    World Movement for Democracy
    ZEB / Zentrum fuer entwicklungspolitische Bildung der Evangelischen Landeskirche Stuttgart, Alemania
    Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum


    Individual signatures:

    Ana Lucía Ixchíu Hernández, Guatemala
    David O., ciudadano de los E.E.U.U.
    Dra. Lisette Aguilar Prado, Guatemala
    Esther Gut de Zurich, Suiza
    Eve Chayes Lyman
    Iduvina Hernández Batres, Guatemala
    Karla AVELAR activista trans refugiada
    Maya Alvarado Chávez, Guatemala
    Mirna Ramírez, Guatemala
    Padre Cirilo Santamaria Sáez, Guatemala
    Samwel Mohochi, Executive Director, ICJ Kenya
    Tony Smith, ciudadano de los E.E.U.U.
    Victoria Sanford, PhD, Director, Center for Human Rights & Peace Studies, Lehman College, City University of New York, United States

     

  • GUATEMALA: ‘The protests were a reflection of both social organisation and citizen autonomy’

    Sandra MoraenCIVICUS speaks about recent protests in Guatemala with Sandra Morán Reyes, an advocate of women’s and LGBTQI+ rights. With a long history of participation in social movements, Sandra was one of the co-founders of the first Guatemalan lesbian group and the organiser of the first pride march in Guatemala, held in 1998 in Guatemala City. In 2015, she was elected as a national congressional representative, becoming the first gay congresswoman and politician to be elected to popular office in the history of her country. From that position, she promoted various initiatives to advance the rights of women and sexual minorities.

    What was the background to the November 2020 protests and how did they begin?

    A new government was inaugurated in January 2020, and soon after that we found ourselves locked up because of the pandemic. But by May or June some of our colleagues started to take to the streets again, partly to criticise the government’s attitude towards the needs of the population as the effects of the crisis generated by the pandemic began to be clearly seen. Suddenly white flags started to appear on the streets, on house doors and in the hands of people and families walking the streets or sitting in doorways. With the white flag people indicated that they did not have enough to eat, and solidarity actions began to take place, for instance in the form of soup kitchens, which did not previously exist in Guatemala. There was a great movement of solidarity among people. While organisations were busy attending to their own members, citizens made great efforts to provide person-to-person support. It became common for people to go out into the streets to give a little of what they had to those who needed it most. This was then repeated regarding those who were affected when hurricanes hit and lost everything.

    At the state level, a lot of resources were approved to alleviate the effects of the pandemic, but these resources did not reach the people and the needs of the population remained unmet, so the question that people began to ask was, ‘where is the money?’

    From 2017 onwards, we started denouncing what we called the ‘corrupt pact’ that brought together public officials, businesspeople and even church representatives in defence of their own interests. In 2015, after six months of sustained mass demonstrations, the president and vice president ended up in prison, but the governments that succeeded them ended up reaffirming the same old system. The government of President Jimmy Morales unilaterally ended the agreement with the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, and the current government led by President Alejandro Giammattei, following on from its predecessor, has made progress in controlling the judiciary, Congress and all state institutions in order to sustain corruption as a form of government.

    The effects of the lack of attention to the impacts of the pandemic and of hurricanes Eta and Iota, which struck in October and November 2020, were compounded by attacks on the officials of the Public Prosecutor’s Office who continue to fight against corruption. Discontent continued to accumulate until the early hours of November 2020 when Congress approved the national budget for 2021. It was a very high budget – the highest in the country's history – and it included obvious pockets of corruption, especially in the area of infrastructure contracts, which is where the bulk of corruption takes place, but paid no attention to health and education, in the context of a pandemic. Budget cuts even affected the national nutrition programme, in a country that has a huge problem of child malnutrition. That was the last straw. People who are not normally prone to protest – a professional chef, an artist, many well-known people in different fields – started writing on social media and expressing anger against this decision. That’s how the first demonstration was organised, and suddenly we were about 25,000 people out there, in the middle of a pandemic.

    By that time all restrictions on movement and gatherings had been lifted, but the pandemic was still ongoing and the risk of contagion was still there. No one foresaw such a massive protest, and yet it happened. The demonstrations were initially peaceful, but already during the second one there was violence and repression. A small group set fire to the Congress building, an event that is still under investigation. This was used to justify the repression: teargas, beatings, arrests and detentions, something that had not happened for a long time. In another demonstration, people set fire to a bus. From our perspective, these acts of violence were instigated to justify the need for more police control over demonstrations and ultimately the repression of protests.

    Was the call for mobilisation made exclusively through social media? Who mobilised?

    There were a series of calls through social media that appealed above all to the middle classes, but social movements and Indigenous authorities also made their calls. Indigenous authorities have played an increasingly important role in recent years, and in the context of this crisis they published a statement in which they proposed a governing council of the four main groups of peoples who make up Guatemala - Maya, Xinka, Garífuna and Mestizo - to pave the way for a Constituent Assembly. They have been visiting territories and working to form alliances, and this was the first time that they have made steps towards the national government, as for now they have only had authority within their territories. The role they have played is important because the oligarchy has always been afraid of an Indigenous uprising; that fear is what moves them, just as they were moved by the fact that in 2019 the candidate for president of the People's Liberation Movement, a party founded by the Peasant Development Committee (CODECA), came in fourth place. A Mayan woman, a peasant, with little schooling, came in fourth place, and they found that very upsetting.

    Four main actors mobilised: Indigenous peoples, women, young people and what are called ‘communities in resistance’ – local communities, generally led by women, who are resisting extractive mega-projects in their territories. The latest demonstrations also evidenced the results of the newly achieved unity of the university student movement: from 2015 onwards, students from the public university of San Carlos de Guatemala marched together with those from the two private universities, Universidad Rafael Landívar, of middle-class students, and Universidad del Valle, which caters to the upper class. The motto under which the public university used to march, ‘USAC is the people’, turned into ‘We are the People’ as a result of this convergence. This was a historical event that marked the return of organised university students to popular struggles.

    The role of young people can also be seen within the feminist movement, as there are many young feminist movements. In particular, the Women in Movement collective, a very important expression of university-based feminists, stands out. Sexual diversity organisations have also been present, and have been very active in denouncing femicides and murders of LGBTQI+ people.

    These groups were joined by a middle class made impoverished by the severe impact of the pandemic. There were many middle-class people, many white-collar workers and professionals, in the demonstrations. Many people who did not belong to any Indigenous, student or women’s organisation or collective went out on their own, moved by the feeling of being fed up. Thus, the November 2020 protests were a reflection of both social organisation and citizen autonomy.

    What did the mobilised citizenry demand?

    Despite the fact that several sectors mobilised and many demands accumulated, there was an order to the protests’ petition list. Although each sector had its own demands, they all rallied around a few major ones. The key demand was that the president should veto the budget, since what triggered the mobilisation was the impudence of a Congress that made a budget that was clearly not to the benefit of the citizens of Guatemala but to their own, to feed corruption. The demonstrations were an immediate success in that regard, since a few days after the Congress building was burned, Congress backed down and annulled the budget it had previously approved. Along with the withdrawal of the budget, the protesters’ demand was the drafting of a new budget that would respond to the needs of the population, but this demand is still pending.

    Following the repression of the protests, the resignation of the Minister of the Interior became a key demand, but this did not happen and this public official remains in office. The president’s resignation was also demanded but did not take place.

    Finally, the demand for a new constitution, which has been on the agenda of social movements for several years, was raised again. In 2015, during the big demonstrations that led to the resignation of the entire government, social movements assessed that corruption was not only the fault of some individuals, as we had a corrupt system and therefore a change of system was needed. Indigenous and peasant organisations have their proposal for constitutional change, based on their demand of recognition of Indigenous peoples and the establishment of a plurinational state that would give them autonomy and decision-making power.

    Other groups have more embryonic proposals. I was a member of Congress until January 2020, and when I was still in Congress I worked with women’s organisations, thinking that this situation could arise and we had to be ready. We started the Movement of Women with Constituent Power to develop a proposal for a new constitution from the perspective of women in all our diversity.

    What are the main changes you propose?

    We have a constitution that was drafted in 1985 and it has an important human rights component; it includes the office of the Ombudsman, which at the time was an innovation. But human rights are approached from an individual perspective; collective rights and peoples’ rights are absent, as are the rights of women and LGBTQI+ people. And so are the most advanced innovations in constitutional matters, such as the rights of nature. Ours is a political proposal for the emancipation of peoples, women and sexual diversity. It is based on the idea of an economy for life, which puts the community at the centre, and on a feminist economy that reorganises work and care tasks.

    Do you think the protests will continue?

    Yes, the protests will continue. With the year-end celebrations came demobilisation, but in recent days it has become public that CODECA has decided to take to the streets again. CODECA is an organisation that normally goes out alone, it doesn’t coordinate with other social movements, but it has a great capacity for mobilisation. If they go back on the streets, they will open a new phase of demonstrations.

    Right now, the Minister of Finance is drawing up a new budget, which in a month’s time will have to be discussed again in Congress. It remains to be seen not only how much will be invested in health, education and economic revival, but also what they think ‘economic revival’ actually means. Until now the emphasis has always been on international private investment, which only generates opportunities for greater exploitation and mega-projects. A bill has been proposed to promote family farming; there is no way it can be passed. So the demands of rural populations, peasants and Indigenous peoples are going to continue to be expressed on the streets.

    For the time being, this is a sectoral call, not a broad call to citizens. But it will not take much to revive citizen protest, since after the November demonstrations the president made a series of promises that he has not kept. The first anniversary of his government was 14 January 2021 and the levels of support it receives are extremely low. Congress also has little legitimacy, given the number of representatives who are part of the ‘corrupt pact’, which is large enough to hold an ordinary majority to pass legislation.

    However, people may be afraid of mobilising because we are at a peak in COVID-19 infections. And another obstacle to the continuity of the protests is the absence of a unified leadership and the fact that coordination is quite limited.

    Civic space in Guatemala is rated as ‘obstructed’ by theCIVICUS Monitor.
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  • GUATEMALA: “las manifestaciones reflejan tanto la organización social como la autonomía ciudadana”

    Sandra MoraenCIVICUS conversa acerca de las recientes protestas en Guatemala con Sandra Morán Reyes, activista por los derechos de las mujeres y de las personas LGBTQI+. Con una larga trayectoria en los movimientos sociales, Sandra fue una de las cofundadoras del primer grupo lésbico guatemalteco y organizadora de la primera Marcha del Orgullo de Guatemala, celebrada en 1998 en la Ciudad de Guatemala. En 2015 fue elegida diputada nacional, convirtiéndose en la primera congresista y política homosexual en un cargo de elección popular en la historia de su país, desde el cual promovió diversas iniciativas en favor de los derechos de las mujeres y las minorías sexuales.

    ¿En qué contexto se produjeron las protestas de noviembre de 2020, y cómo comenzaron?

    En enero de 2020 se inició un nuevo gobierno, y poco después la pandemia nos dejó a todos encerrados. Pero alrededor de mayo o junio algunos compañeros y compañeras comenzaron a salir a la calle de nuevo, en parte para criticar la actitud del gobierno frente a las necesidades de la población a medida que empezaron a verse claramente los efectos de la crisis generada por la pandemia. De pronto aparecieron banderas blancas, en las calles, en las puertas de las casas, en manos de personas y familias que recorrían las calles o se sentaban en los portales. Con la bandera blanca la gente indicaba que no tenía para comer y empezaron a darse acciones de solidaridad como las ollas solidarias, que aquí en Guatemala antes no existían. Hubo un gran movimiento de solidaridad entre personas. Mientras que las organizaciones se volcaron a atender a sus integrantes, la ciudadanía realizó esfuerzos importantes para brindar apoyo de persona a persona. Se volvió corriente que la gente saliera a recorrer las calles para repartir un poco de lo que tenía entre quienes más lo necesitaran. Esto se repitió luego en relación con las personas que fueron afectadas por los huracanes y perdieron todo.

    A nivel estatal, se aprobaron muchísimos recursos para paliar los efectos de la pandemia, pero estos recursos no llegaban a la gente y las necesidades de la población seguían desatendidas, de modo que la pregunta que empezó a plantearse fue “¿dónde está el dinero?”.

    Desde 2017 nosotros denunciábamos lo que llamábamos el “pacto de corruptos”, que vinculaba a funcionarios, empresarios e incluso representantes de la iglesia, aliados en defensa de sus propios intereses. En 2015, tras seis meses de manifestaciones masivas sostenidas, terminaron en la cárcel el presidente y la vicepresidenta, pero los gobiernos que les sucedieron acabaron reafirmando el mismo sistema. El gobierno del presidente Jimmy Morales finalizó unilateralmente el acuerdo con la Comisión Internacional contra la Impunidad en Guatemala, y el actual gobierno del presidente Alejandro Giammattei, en continuidad del anterior, ha ido avanzando en el control de la justicia, el Congreso y todas las instituciones del Estado para sostener la corrupción como forma de gobierno.

    A los efectos de la no atención de los impactos de la pandemia y de los huracanes Eta e Iota, que golpearon en octubre y noviembre de 2020, se sumaron los ataques contra los funcionarios del Ministerio Público que continúan luchando contra la corrupción. Los descontentos se fueron sumando hasta que en noviembre de 2020 el Congreso aprobó de madrugada el presupuesto nacional para 2021. Era un presupuesto altísimo – el más alto en la historia del país - con bolsones evidentes para la corrupción, especialmente en el rubro de obra gris, que es donde se concentra el grueso de la corrupción, pero sin ninguna atención a la salud y a la educación en el marco de la pandemia. El presupuesto incluso recortaba el programa de nutrición, en un país que tiene un enorme problema de desnutrición infantil. Esa fue la gota que derramó el vaso. Personas que normalmente no son las que protestan – una chef profesional, un artista, muchas personas conocidas en distintos ámbitos - comenzaron a escribir en las redes sociales y a manifestarse en contra de esta decisión. Así se convocó la primera manifestación, y de repente éramos como 25.000 personas – en medio de una pandemia.

    Para esa época ya se habían levantado todas las restricciones a la circulación y a las reuniones, pero la pandemia continuaba y el riesgo de contagio también. Nadie preveía una protesta tan masiva, y sin embargo ocurrió. Las manifestaciones fueron inicialmente pacíficas, pero ya en la segunda hubo violencia y represión. Un pequeño grupo provocó un incendio en el edificio del Congreso, un hecho que continúa bajo investigación. Sobre esto se justificó la represión: gases lacrimógenos, golpes, arrestos y detenciones, algo que hace mucho que no ocurría. En otra manifestación se quemó un bus. Desde nuestra perspectiva, los actos de violencia fueron instigados para justificar la necesidad de un mayor control policial de las manifestaciones y la eventual represión.

    ¿La convocatoria a la movilización se hizo exclusivamente a través de las redes sociales? ¿Quiénes se movilizaron?

    Hubo a través de las redes sociales una serie de llamados que apelaron sobre todo a las clases medias, pero también convocaron los movimientos sociales y las Autoridades Indígenas. Estas últimas han desempeñado un rol cada vez más importante en los últimos años, y en el marco de esta crisis publicaron una declaración en la que propusieron un consejo de gobierno de los cuatro pueblos que integran Guatemala - Maya, Xinka, Garífuna y Mestizo – para hacer una transición hacia una Asamblea Constituyente. Ellos han ido visitando territorios y haciendo un trabajo de formación de alianzas, y es la primera vez que avanzan hacia el gobierno nacional, ya que tienen autoridad solamente en sus territorios. El rol que han desempeñado es importante porque la oligarquía toda la vida le ha temido al levantamiento indígena; ese temor les mueve. Así como les movió el hecho de que en 2019 la candidata a presidenta del Movimiento de Liberación de los Pueblos, un partido fundado por el Comité de Desarrollo Campesino (CODECA), quedara en cuarto lugar. Una mujer maya, campesina, con poca escolaridad, quedó en cuarto lugar, y eso les hizo ruido.

    Ha habido cuatro actores movilizados: pueblos indígenas, mujeres, juventud y comunidades en resistencia – comunidades locales, generalmente lideradas por mujeres, que resisten frente a megaproyectos extractivos en sus territorios. En las últimas manifestaciones se observó el resultado del proceso de unidad del movimiento estudiantil universitario: a partir de 2015 los estudiantes de la universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala, la universidad pública, marcharon junto con los de las dos universidades privadas, la Rafael Landívar, de clase media, y la Universidad del Valle, de clase alta. El lema con que marchaba la universidad pública, “USAC es pueblo” se transformó en “Somos Pueblo” a partir de esta convergencia. Fue un hecho histórico que representó el regreso de la juventud universitaria organizada a las luchas populares.

    El rol de la juventud también se observa en el movimiento feminista, ya que hay muchos movimientos feministas jóvenes. En particular se destaca el colectivo Mujeres en Movimienta, una expresión muy importante de feministas universitarias. La diversidad sexual también ha estado presente, y ha estado muy activa en la denuncia de los femicidios y homicidios de personas LGBTQI+.

    A ellos se sumó la clase media empobrecida tras el fuerte golpe de la pandemia. En las manifestaciones hubo mucha gente de clase media, muchos profesionales. Muchos ciudadanos y ciudadanas que no pertenecían a ninguna organización ni colectivo indígena, estudiantil o de mujeres salieron por su cuenta, movidos por el hartazgo. Así, las manifestaciones de noviembre de 2020 reflejaron tanto la organización social como la autonomía ciudadana.

    ¿Qué demandaba la ciudadanía movilizada?

    A pesar de que hubo varios sectores movilizados y muchísimas demandas acumuladas, hubo un orden en el petitorio de las protestas. Si bien los distintos sectores tenían sus propias demandas, todos acogieron los grandes reclamos. El eje central era que el presidente vetara el presupuesto, ya que lo que gatilló la movilización fue el descaro de un Congreso que hizo un presupuesto que no era para la ciudadanía de Guatemala sino para ellos mismos, para alimentar la corrupción. En ello las manifestaciones tuvieron un éxito inmediato, ya que pocos días después de la quema del edificio del Congreso, este dio marcha atrás y anuló el presupuesto que había aprobado. Junto con la retirada del presupuesto estaba la demanda de que se aprobara un presupuesto que respondiera a las necesidades de la población, pero esta demanda sigue pendiente.

    Tras la represión de las protestas, otra demanda central fue la renuncia del ministro de Gobernación, que no se produjo; el funcionario sigue en su cargo. También se reclamó la renuncia del presidente, que tampoco se produjo.

    Finalmente, se volvió a reflotar la demanda de una nueva Constitución, que está en la agenda de los movimientos sociales desde hace varios años. En el 2015, cuando tuvieron lugar las grandes manifestaciones que llevaron a la renuncia de todo el gobierno, los movimientos sociales evaluamos que la corrupción no estaba solamente en las personas, sino que teníamos un sistema corrupto y que por lo tanto hacía falta un cambio de sistema. Las organizaciones indígenas y campesinas tienen su propuesta de cambio constitucional, basada en su reclamo de reconocimiento de los pueblos indígenas e instauración de un Estado plurinacional que les dé autonomía y poder de decisión.

    Otros grupos tienen propuestas más embrionarias. Yo fui diputada hasta enero de 2020, y cuando todavía estaba en el Congreso trabajé con las organizaciones de mujeres pensando en que podía darse esta coyuntura y teníamos que prepararnos. Iniciamos el Movimiento de Mujeres con Poder Constituyente para ir configurando una propuesta de una nueva constitución desde la perspectiva de las mujeres en su diversidad.

    ¿Cuáles son los principales cambios que proponen?

    Nosotros tenemos una constitución que fue redactada en 1985 y tiene un contenido importante de derechos humanos; incluye la figura del Ombudsman, que en ese momento era una innovación. Pero los derechos humanos son encarados desde una perspectiva individual; están ausentes los derechos colectivos, los derechos de los pueblos, y también los derechos de las mujeres y la diversidad sexual, y por supuesto lo más avanzado en materia constitucional que son los derechos de la naturaleza. La nuestra es una propuesta política emancipadora de los pueblos, de las mujeres y de las diversidades. Se basa en la idea de una economía para la vida, que pone a la comunidad en el centro, y en una economía feminista que reorganice el trabajo y los cuidados.

    ¿Piensas que las protestas continuarán?

    Sí, las protestas van a continuar. Con las fiestas de fin de año se produjo una desmovilización, pero en estos días se supo que CODECA va a volver a salir a la calle. CODECA es una organización que normalmente sale sola, no coordina con otros movimientos sociales, pero tiene una gran capacidad de movilización. Si ellos vuelven a las calles, abrirán una nueva etapa de manifestaciones.

    Ahora mismo el ministro de Finanzas está elaborando un nuevo presupuesto, que en un mes se tendrá que volver a discutir en el Congreso. Queda por verse no solamente cuánto se invertirá en salud, educación y reactivación económica, sino también qué es lo que considera “reactivación económica”. Hasta ahora el énfasis ha estado puesto siempre en la inversión privada internacional, que solo genera espacios de mayor explotación y megaproyectos. Hay una ley de promoción de la agricultura familiar que no hay manera de que se apruebe. De modo que la demanda de las poblaciones rurales, campesinas e indígenas, va a continuar expresándose en las calles.

    Por el momento, se trata de una convocatoria sectorial, no de una convocatoria amplia a la ciudadanía. Pero no hace falta demasiado para que se reactive la protesta ciudadana, ya que tras las manifestaciones de noviembre el presidente hizo una serie de promesas que no cumplió. El 14 de enero de 2021 se cumplió un año de gobierno y los niveles de apoyo que recibe el gobierno son bajísimos. El Congreso también tiene escasa legitimidad, dada la cantidad de diputados que integran el “pacto de corruptos”, suficiente para conformar una mayoría ordinaria para aprobar las leyes.

    Sin embargo, puede que haya miedo a movilizarse porque estamos en un pico de infecciones por COVID-19. Y otro obstáculo para la continuidad de las movilizaciones es la ausencia de un liderazgo unificado y la limitada coordinación.

    El espacio cívico en Guatemala es calificado como “obstruido” por elCIVICUS Monitor.
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  • Guatemala: Las autoridades detienen a Jerson Antonio Morales al tiempo que continúan los ataques contra defensores de los derechos indígenas

    English

    La alianza global de la sociedad civil CIVICUS condenó el arresto y la detención ilegal del periodista y activista de los derechos indígenas Jerson Antonio Xitumul Morales por parte de las autoridades guatemaltecas, el 11 de noviembre de 2017.

     

  • Six countries added to watchlist of countries where civic freedoms are under serious threat

    • Bangladesh, Maldives, Cameroon, DRC, Guatemala, Nicaragua join global watchlist
    • Escalating rights violations include killings, attacks on protesters, media, opposition
    • Neighbours, international community must pressure governments to end repression

    Six countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa have been added to a watchlist of countries which have seen an escalation in serious threats to fundamental freedoms in recent weeks and months.

    The new watchlist released by the CIVICUS Monitor, an online platform that tracks threats to civil society across the globe, identifies growing concerns in Bangladesh,  Maldives, CameroonDemocratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)Guatemala, and Nicaragua. Activists and civil society organisations in these countries are currently experiencing a severe infringement of civic freedoms, as protected by international law.

    Violations include brutal attacks by police on peaceful protests in Nicaragua and Bangladesh; the murder of human rights defenders in Guatemala; the killing of protesters and a brutal state campaign against activists and the political opposition in the DRC; and the prosecution of human rights defenders and journalists on fabricated charges in Cameroon, amidst an escalating civil conflict.

    “It is deeply concerning to see escalated threats to basic rights in these countries,” said Cathal Gilbert, CIVICUS Civic Space Research Lead.

    “It is crucial that these six governments wake up to their failure to respect international law and take swift action to respect their citizens’ most basic freedoms in a democratic society,” Gilbert said.

    “We also call upon neighbouring states and international bodies to do put pressure on these countries to end the repression.”

    Over the past year, authorities in Bangladesh have used repressive laws to target and harass journalists and human rights defenders, restrict freedom of assembly and carry out the enforced disappearances of opposition supporters. The human rights situation has deteriorated further ahead of national elections scheduled for late 2018. Members of the Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL), the student wing of the ruling party Bangladesh Awami League (BAL), have attacked student activists, academics and journalists with impunity.

    In Nicaragua, at least 300 people have been killed since protests began in April 2018, with hundreds more kidnapped or missing. The demonstrations were initially sparked by regressive changes to the social security system but grew to include calls for President Daniel Ortega to resign in the wake of his brutal repression of peaceful protests. While large-scale marches have subsided in recent days, some continue amid a tense political situation as the Ortega government continues to silence critics despite agreements struck with international bodies, and an undertaking to allow an IACHR investigation into the violence. Attacks on protestors are perpetrated both by state forces and armed groups aligned with the government.

    This year, between January and July alone, at least 18 human rights defenders (HRDs) were killed in Guatemala. There were also two assassination attempts and 135 other attacks, with 32 of those aimed at women HRDs. In early August, United Nations Special Rapporteurs issued a statement raising the alarm at the spike in killings in 2018. Reports from Guatemala indicate that the space for civil society has worsened due to land disputes and actions by corporate interests, the source of targeted violence against specific groups of activists.

    Despite the announcement that Congolese president Joseph Kabila will not run for a third term, tensions are still high in the DRC, ahead of scheduled elections in December.  In recent months, protestors, youth movements, human rights defenders, journalists and the political opposition have all faced widespread state repression, including arrests. In June this year, CSOs and UN Special Rapporteurs expressed serious concerns about a planned new law that would give authorities power to dissolve non-governmental organisations (NGOs) over public order or national security concerns.

    In Maldives, a widespread crackdown on dissent began in February 2018 when a court ordered the release of opposition leaders. This decision led to the arbitrary arrest of judges, scores of opposition politicians and activists as well as the use of unnecessary force by police to disperse peaceful demonstrations. There are also documented cases of people being ill-treated in detention. With elections due on 23rd September 2018, civic space is likely to become increasingly contested. Already in May 2018, the Electoral Commission moved to bar four opposition leaders from running in the upcoming presidential elections.

    In Cameroon, an escalating conflict in the country’s Anglophone regions between armed separatists and the government has sparked a mounting humanitarian crisis. It began as protests in 2016, resulting in state repression of protests and the arrest and prosecution of protest leaders. The conflict intensified in recent months with killings and human rights violations committed by both sides. At least 100 civilians, 43 security officers and an unknown number of armed separatists have reportedly been killed, according to an International Crisis Group report. NGOs and human rights defenders have also been targeted.

    In the coming weeks, the CIVICUS Monitor will closely track developments in each of these countries as part of efforts to ensure greater pressure is brought to bear on governments. CIVICUS calls upon these governments to do everything in their power to immediately end the ongoing crackdowns and ensure that perpetrators are held to account.

    ENDS.

    For more information, please contact:

    Cathal Gilbert

    Grant Clark

     

  • Statement: Countries of concern at the UN Human Rights Council

    41st Session of the UN Human Rights Council
    Interactive Dialogue on Countries of Concern

    CIVICUS is deeply concerned by the grave situation in Sudan, and we call once again on the Council to take immediate steps to address this crisis, at the very least by establishing a fact-finding mission to monitor, verify and report on the situation to prevent further bloodshed and ensure that the perpetrators of these atrocities are held to account.

    In Saudi Arabia, human rights defenders face continued unwarranted detention. A wave of further arrests in April targeted those supporting the women’s rights movement and detained activists.  Saudi Arabia is not above Human Rights Council scrutiny and we reiterate calls on the Council to establish a monitoring mechanism over human rights violations in the country and call explicitly for the immediate and unconditional release of the detained Saudi women human rights defenders.

    In Guatemala, human rights defenders are being criminalized and harassed. Cases filed against Claudia Samoyoa Pineda and Jose Martinez Cabrera is illustrative of the authorities’ growing intolerance of independent dissent, including of those working on land and environmental defense. This is just one example of targeted reprisals levelled against civil society organisations and human rights defenders that have mobilised against a series of attacks on Guatemala's democratic institutional framework.

    Civic space in Afghanistan remains under serious threat. Violence against human rights defenders and journalists continues with impunity and state actors also have been implicated in violations against journalists. Women, civil society and victim's groups have been excluded from the peace processes, which threatens to undermine all hard-won gains. 

    Lastly, we are deeply concerned at the situation in the Philippines. Despite progress on a bill to protect human rights defenders, the situation on the ground remains dire. Dozens of activists have been killed since 2016 under the Duterte administration and the work of CSOs, media and human rights defenders have been severely undermined by smear campaigns by the government.

    We call on the Council’s continued attention to, and call for urgent action on, these issues of serious concern.

     

  • The deterioration of civic space in Colombia, Guatemala and Honduras

    37th Session of the UN Human Rights Council
    Statement during the High Commissioner's country briefings

    CIVICUS is extremely concerned about the spate of attacks against HRDs journalists and peaceful protestors that has taken place across Colombia, Guatemala and Honduras. 

    We remain gravely alarmed by the striking inattention given to the disturbing increase of killings of HRDs since the signing of the Peace Agreement by the Colombian government and the FARC guerrilla group. Local partners report that 106 defenders were killed and 310 attacks on media workers and journalists took place during 2017. In addition, arbitrary detentions, attacks and judicial harassment are also on the rise.

    Moreover, CIVICUS is concerned about the situation in Honduras.  Honduras has been placed   on the CIVICUS Monitor Watch List because of the violence surrounding the November 2017 contested presidential elections. Protests were met with excessive police force and more than 20 protesters were killed, with many others injured or detained. Additionally, reports show increasing attacks against HRDs who denounce the repression of protests.  There has also been an increase in violations of the right to freedom of expression, including smear campaigns, threats, harassment and physical attacks against media workers and activists expressing dissent on the media.

    Finally, Mr President, CIVICUS is extremely concerned by the continuing violence against local communities involved in land rights struggles in Guatemala. These violations are perpetrated by state security forces or by private security working under the orders of private corporations. The authorities have not taken any action to protect these communities. During one such event in late November 2017, a Maya community that had been evicted from their land and were camping on the side of a road was attacked by security guards that opened fire, killing one community member and injuring another.

    In all three cases, CIVICUS calls on the authorities to stop the use of violence against activists, media workers and peaceful demonstrators, to conduct investigations on threats and attacks, and ensure perpetrators of unlawful killings are brought to justice without further delays.