Guatemala: the international community must play an assertive role in protecting Guatemalans’ civic freedoms

Statement at the 52nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council 

Item 2 General Debate

Delivered by Nicola Paccamiccio

Thank you Mr. President,

CIVICUS welcomes the report of the High Commissioner on Guatemala and shares the concerns over the widespread impunity and the relentless deterioration of civic space.

Anti-corruption prosecutors, judges and journalists, who have investigated and exposed corruption, human rights violations, and the abuse of power, are criminalised by the authorities and face spurious criminal charges. Many of them have been forced to flee the country and are now living in exile.

Civil society groups are subjected to a climate of increasing hostility, harassment, and persecution. Over the last three years, attacks on human rights defenders (HRDs) rose sharply, with more than 2000 cases of defamation, harassment, intimidation, and criminalisation. Women human rights defenders, land and environmental defenders, along with HRDs working on peace and justice are the most targeted.

Freedom of association has been consistently undermined. Human rights organisations, especially those in defence of anti-corruption activists, have faced digital attacks and threats. The 2021 NGO Law provides the State with wide discretionary powers to dissolve NGOs in complete violation of international human rights standards.

These acts are part of a concerted effort to erode civic space and the rule of law, create a climate of fear, as well as to co-opt the judicial system to guarantee impunity for human rights violations.

Ahead of the June 2023 elections and due to the lack of independence of key institutions charged with overseeing the electoral process, we ask the international community to play an assertive role in protecting Guatemalans’ civic freedoms by monitoring the pre-electoral period and electoral process.

Thank you.

 Civic space in Guatemala is rated as "Obstructed" by the CIVICUS Monitor


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