No.  25/03



The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights most emphatically condemns the raid on the Headquarters of the Human Right’s Attorney’s Office in Guatemala carried out on August 26, 2003 by unidentified persons, who examined and damaged official documents and took away files and computers.  Given the nature of these acts, it would appear to be a case of intimidation rather than regular theft.


The work done by the Human Rights Attorney’s Office in Guatemala in defending and protecting human rights has often come under attack in the form of violent raids on its branch offices in Izabal, Escuintla, Peten, Baja Verapaz, and Zacapa; death threats against the Human Rights Attorney and members of his team; physical assault of three members of the institution; and the murder of Josué Israel López, the assistant to the Human Rights Attorney in Chimaltenango.


The Commission considers that these grave incidents form part of a series of acts of intimidation against human rights defenders, journalists, and social and political leaders, as well as against justice system officials, designed to obstruct their work and to destabilize the community involved in the defense and protection of human rights in Guatemala and society as a whole.


These acts of intimidation add to the IACHR’s often-stated concern at the evident deterioration of the rule of law in Guatemala.  The IACHR urges the Guatemalan State, as the party responsible for the security of citizens and sole party responsible for investigating crime, to guarantee the conditions and freedom needed for work on behalf of the defense and protection of human rights and, in particular, to prosecute those responsible for planning and executing these abominable acts.



Washington, D.C., August 27, 2003