IACHR DEPLORES MURDERS OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS IN GUATEMALA
Washington, D.C., February 25, 2010 — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns in the strongest terms the murders of four human rights defenders in Guatemala.
According to the information available to the Commission, four human rights activists—one woman and three men— have been killed in Guatemala since the beginning of this year. On January 13, Evelinda Ramírez Reyes, President of the Retalhuleu Resistance Front for the Defense of Natural Resources (FRENA) was killed on January 13 when she was traveling to San Marcos from Guatemala City.
On February 11, activist Germán Antonio Curup, a member of a movement that opposes the installation of the Cementos Progreso plant in San Juan Sacatepéquez, was kidnapped by unknown individuals in that city, and his body was found three days later in the municipality of Bárcenas. His throat had been slit and his body showed signs of torture.
Another leader of the FRENA movement, Octavio Roblero, was killed in Malacatán, in the department of San Marcos, on February 17. That same day, Juan Antonio Chea, a Mayan indigenous lawyer who worked with the Human Rights Office of the Archbishopric (ODHA) and the National Reparations Program (PNR), died after being shot by unknown gunmen in Cobán, Alta Verapaz.
The IACHR strongly urges the Guatemalan State to maximize its efforts to investigate and legally clarify these crimes and to prosecute the perpetrators and masterminds. The Inter-American Commission also calls on the State of Guatemala to urgently adopt all the measures necessary to provide adequate protection for human rights defenders in the country. The IACHR expects to receive relevant information about this situation during a hearing on the Human Rights Situation in Guatemala scheduled to take place during the Commission's 138th regular period of sessions in March.
As the Commission has indicated previously, acts of violence and other attacks perpetrated against human rights defenders not only affect the guarantees that belong to all human beings; they also undermine the fundamental role these defenders play in society and contribute to the vulnerability of all those whose rights they champion. The Commission also recalls that the work of human rights defenders is critical for the construction of a solid and lasting democratic society, and that they play a leading role in the process to fully implement the full rule of law and to strengthen democracy.
A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who act in a personal capacity, without representing a particular country, and who are elected by the OAS General Assembly.
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