IACHR EXPRESSES CONCERN AT THE SITUATION
OF HUMAN RIGHTS
The Unit for Human Rights
Defenders of the IACHR has received information regarding a significant
increase in the number of murders, threats, acts of intimidation, attacks on
the person, abductions, and violations of domicile targeted at human rights
defenders. Furthermore, in
recent days information was received about a letter containing a death
threat sent to six prominent defenders and four Guatemalan journalists.
This recent threat, coupled with the concrete acts of violence
against defenders, reflects the increasing danger to all those individuals
devoted to the defense and protection of human rights in Guatemala.
The Commission received
information about the creation of a Special Prosecutor's Office and a
Presidential Commission to investigate threats against human rights
defenders. The Commission acknowledges the importance of these
mechanisms of protection and hopes that they will make solid progress in the
meaningful investigation and identification of those responsible.
The Commission recalls that it is the duty of states to protect the
lives and physical integrity of defenders and to ensure for them the full
exercise of their activities in defense of human rights. Finally, the
Commission reiterates that it is the duty and obligation of states to
investigate such acts of violence and to punish those responsible, and it
undertakes closely to monitor developments in connection with this worrying
The IACHR recalls that at the last
OAS General Assembly held in Barbados, in June 2002, the states adopted a
resolution on Human Rights Defenders in the Americas, whereby they agreed:
condemn actions that directly or indirectly prevent or hamper the work of
human rights defenders in the Americas.
urge member states to step up their efforts to adopt the necessary measures,
in keeping with their domestic law and with internationally accepted
principles and standards, to safeguard the lives, personal safety, and
freedom of expression of human rights defenders.