RIGHTS OF WOMEN
In Chapter XIII of the Report on Guatemala, the Commission
recognized the major progress the State had made in recent years in
remedying problems of de facto
and de jure discrimination.
It did say, however, that the persistence of a number of anachronistic
and unjustified legislative distinctions based on gender contravened
the object and purpose of the positive new agenda that is being
In the report the Commission analyzed the situation of such
basic women’s rights as access to justice, labor, health, and gender
violence. As a general conclusion, the Commission said that the quest
of the State and civil society to ensure that women were able to fully
exercise their rights required meeting two further priority
challenges. First, the administration of justice must be made more
available and effective for women seeking the protection of basic
rights. Second, the positive norms that have been adopted to safeguard
the rights of women must be translated into concrete action through
the establishment and strengthening of the necessary policies,
programs, and services.
With regard to the rights of women, the Commission recommended
that the State:
Take the steps necessary to carry out a comprehensive review of
national legislation to continue the process of identifying provisions
which establish unjustified distinctions based on gender.
Adopt the legislative and other measures necessary to advance
without delay in the process of modifying or eliminating provisions,
such as those discussed above, already identified as discriminatory.
Devote specific attention to the barriers in law and in fact
that impede women’s access to effective judicial remedies and
protection, particularly in the area of violence against women, within
the framework of ongoing efforts to strengthen the administration of
4. Establish the necessary mechanisms of coordination, technical
assistance, training, monitoring, and evaluation to ensure that the
perspective of gender is incorporated in the design and execution of
all spheres of law and policy; this should include amplifying existing
mechanisms for the participation of civil society in the formulation
and implementation of State initiatives affecting the rights of women.
5. Ensure the allocation of sufficient human and material
resources to the entities, such as the National Office of Women, the
Office of the Defender of Indigenous Women, the Office of the Defender
of Women’s Human Rights of the Ombudsman, and the Presidential
Secretariat of Women, tasked with special responsibility for the
protection of the rights of women.
Strengthen strategies to ensure that girls have equal access to
primary education, and to support the completion of primary school as
a minimum standard, and to provide girls and women equal access to
secondary education, and technical and professional training.
7. Design and implement educational initiatives for people of all
ages, with a view to changing stereotypes and beginning to modify
practices based on the idea of inferiority or subordination of women.
Strengthen labor legislation and labor inspection services to
protect the right of women to just, equitable and healthy conditions
of work; to ensure equity in pay and benefits; and, in particular, to
safeguard the rights of women and girls employed in domestic work.
9. Adopt additional steps to provide integral health services,
including the provision of modern family planning services, in order
to protect the right of women to personal integrity, and the right of
couples to determine the number and spacing of children.
10. Ensure that the impact and consequences of the acts of violence
committed against women during the armed conflict are adequately
reflected in the design and execution of the national reparation plan
and other measures of reparation and rehabilitation.
Further develop the system for registering complaints of
violence against women to ensure the adequacy of the form used to
collect information and the availability of accurate data for the
design of effective responses.
12. Invest additional human and material resources in education
initiatives designed to inform the public about the causes, nature,
and consequences of gender violence, most especially intrafamilial
violence, and to inform girls and women of their right to be free from
violence and the measures available to protect that right; such
initiatives should include information about the terms of the Law on
the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Intrafamilial Violence
and the Convention of Belém do Pará.
13. Intensify and amplify existing efforts to train officials,
particularly those within the National Civil Police and Public
Prosecutor’s Office responsible for receiving complaints, in the
causes, nature, and consequences of gender violence, with a view to
increasing the sensitivity and efficacy of their response to victims.
Guarantee the availability and effective implementation of
judicial measures to protect women who have been subject to or
threatened with violence.
Provide additional training, technical assistance, material
resources and oversight to the entities responsible – the National
Civil Police, Office of the Public Prosecutor, technical personnel
such as forensic specialists, and the judiciary–to ensure that cases
concerning violence against women are investigated, prosecuted, and
punished in accordance with the standard of due diligence of the
American Convention and Convention of Belém do Pará.
of National Legislation
As regards the first recommendation in Chapter IX–the need
for a comprehensive review of national legislation to continue the
process of identifying provisions that establish unjustified
distinctions based on gender–the IACHR has received information
indicating that the measures necessary for such an exhaustive review
of Guatemalan law have not been adopted, principally because of a lack
of willingness of part of the decision-makers. Consequently, the
Commission urges the State to comply with that recommendation
With regard to the draft legislation to prevent and punish
sexual harassment, the State noted that the preliminary bill was being
studied and analyzed after a new version had been issued.
Measures to Modify or Eliminate Discriminatory Provisions
With respect to the second recommendation–the adoption of
legislative and other measures necessary to advance without delay in
the process of modifying or eliminating provisions, such as those
discussed above, already identified as discriminatory–on September
11, 2002, the Guatemalan Congress issued Decree 57-2002, modifying
Article 220-bis of the Criminal Code, which deals with discrimination.
This article defines the crime of discrimination and imposes prison
terms and fines on anyone who incurs in discrimination that hinders or
prevents a person, group of persons, or associations the enjoyment of
a legally established right, including customary rights, and it rules
that discrimination on language, cultural, or ethnic grounds shall be
considered an aggravating factor in the crime committed, for any
person who disseminates, supports, or encourages discriminatory ideas;
when the action is by a public employee or official in the exercise of
that position; and when the action is by a private citizen while
providing a public service. The Commission recognizes the importance
of the amendment of this article. However, it points out that although
it defines the crime of discrimination, the task of eliminating the
discriminatory provisions still remains pending.
Access to Justice in
Cases of Violence against Women
With reference to the third recommendation in Chapter IX, which
proposes devoting specific attention to the barriers in law and in
fact that impede women’s access to effective judicial remedies and
protection, the State reported that work was underway with the first
report of the Defense Office for Indigenous Women on the prevailing
situation among Guatemala’s indigenous women.
In its comments on this follow-up report, the State said that
it has been working in this area to ensure women increased access to
the resources of judicial protection, particularly in cases involving
violence against women.
It also noted that the PNC’s gender office had begun
operations, in compliance with the Work Plan established to promote
gender equality measures within the police. It also reported the
creation of an office for women within the Indigenous Development
Fund. However, the Commission was told that although offices have been
opened up within the Public Prosecution Service, they neither
facilitate nor strengthen women’s access to justice. The information
indicates that the judicial officials’ efforts are aimed more at
detecting shortcomings in formalities than at finding solutions to
controversies, thus causing the delays in the administration of
justice that are only too familiar.
The Commission would like to emphasize once again the
importance of facilitating access to justice by women, particularly in
cases involving violence, as
required by Article 7 of the Convention de Belém do Pará. Similarly,
information that has reached the Commission indicates that no steps
have been taken to guarantee a reduction in the acts of violence
committed against women. At present, violence toward women has
increased: rapes, incest, and murder.
Regarding compliance with the IACHR’s fourth recommendation
in Chapter IX–establishing the necessary mechanisms of coordination,
technical assistance, training, monitoring, and evaluation to ensure
that the perspective of gender is incorporated in the design and
execution of all spheres of law and policy, with the expansion of
existing mechanisms for allowing civil society to participate in the
formulation and implementation of State initiatives affecting the
rights of women–the State reported that it had carried out a
consensus-building exercise with civil society organizations with a
view toward defining the National Policy for the Promotion and
Development of Guatemalan women and the Equal Opportunities Plan for
This Policy and Plan contain a general set of measures,
programs, and projects, to be implemented by the agencies of the State
responsible for the integral development of Guatemalan women under
conditions of true equality.
The Consultative Council of Women, set up by the Presidential
Secretariat for Women, has the task of coordinating activities to
promote women at the interinstitutional level. In connection with
this, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Food conducted an
internal program of training, intended to respond to the specific
demands regarding gender issues. The Ministry is also working in close
conjunction with the Presidential Secretariat for Women on creating
and/or strengthening Gender Units within other ministries.
The State also reported that the National Public Administration
Institute has launched a gender equality training program for
government officials, which will help boost understanding of the
importance of including gender awareness in public policies.
With respect to information systems, an agreement was reached
with the National Statistics Institute (INE) to improve data breakdown
in terms of sex.
With reference to participation by civil society, the
Commission commends the positive exercise conducted to secure passage
of the Social Development Law and the Development and Population
Policy, an effort that involved representatives of both civil society
and the government.
As regards the fifth recommendation–ensuring the allocation
of sufficient human and material resources to entities such as the
National Office of Women, the Defense Office for Indigenous Women, the
ombudsman’s Women’s Defense Office, and the Presidential
Secretariat for Women, all of which have special responsibility for
protecting the rights of women–there is no information regarding the
State’s implementation of this recommendation.
Access to Education
With respect to the sixth recommendation, the State reported
that it has made proposals for educational reform, including amended
curricula; similarly, in conjunction with the Secretariat for Social
Projects, the First Lady facilitated access to primary, secondary,
diversified, and university education for 3,785 women from 14
departments by means of basic literacy programs, access to accelerated
learning efforts, and participation in distance-learning projects by
funding enrollment fees and paying for purchases of school supplies.
However, the IACHR has been informed that no steps have been taken to
guarantee girls and women equal access to secondary education or
technical and professional training.
In its comments on the follow-up report, the State said that
among its education initiatives for people of all ages, a method was
proposed to the National Literacy Council (CONALFA) for literacy
training for women, using reproductive health texts. Within the
Education Reform Commission, after a proposal was submitted, it was
agreed to create a Gender Commission, responsible for implementing
gender awareness. The State also reported that the Defense Office for
Indigenous Women had conducted a series of workshops with young people
to inform and educate them about human rights and about the
enforcement of the international human rights instruments that
Guatemala has ratified; and that the National Institute for Technical
and Productive Training (INTECAP) provided education programs directed
at the demands expressed by the public in different regions of the
country. The State specified that the training programs most
frequently requested by the indigenous population were those dealing
with the agricultural sector, the textile industry, and the foodstuffs
In its comments on the follow-up report, the State said that
INTECAP was keeping statistics indicating the ethnic origin and gender
of the participants in promotional programs.
As regards the seventh recommendation the design and
implementation of educational initiatives for people of all ages, with
a view to changing stereotypes and beginning to modify practices based
on the idea of women’s inferiority or their subordination–the
Commission noted with satisfaction that the Social Development Law
addresses a change in those stereotypes.
Regarding the eighth recommendation–which proposes
strengthening labor legislation and labor inspection services to
protect the right of women to just, equitable, and healthy working
conditions, ensuring equity in pay and benefits, and in particular,
safeguarding the rights of women and girls employed in domestic
service–the State reported that the proposed amendments to the Labor
Code to include the notion of equality between men and women was still
being discussed by different sectors of civil society. SEPREM, SEPAZ,
MINTRAS, and ONAM, in conjunction with the female members of Congress,
are preparing a negotiating strategy for approval.
With reference to the ninth recommendation, dealing with
integral health services, the Commission notes with satisfaction that
the Guatemalan Congress passed the Social Development Law, which, in
its provisions on family planning, contains a sexual and reproductive
program run by the Ministry of Health. One of its achievements is that
it guarantees the right of couples to decide the number of their
children and timing of their births, and it also treats single parents
and women as families.
Regarding the tenth recommendation–aimed at ensuring that the
impact and consequences of the acts of violence committed against
women during the armed conflict are adequately reflected in the design
and execution of the national reparation plan and other measures of
reparation and rehabilitation–the Commission believes that it is
positive that the National Redress Program (PNR) provides particular
attention for victims of sexual violence who so request, in accordance
with their specific needs. Equally commendable is that it will
coordinate with other government agencies and civil society on
policies aimed at providing permanent attention for victims of sexual
Single Register of Complaints
With respect to the eleventh recommendation–further
developing the system for registering complaints of violence against
women to ensure the adequacy of the single form used to collect
information and the availability of accurate data for the design of
effective responses–the State has provided no information. The
information available indicates that not many people are familiar with
the single form used to report violence against women. The existing
system has not guaranteed the collection of precise information, which
hinders coordination among the different organizations involved.
In its comments on this follow-up report, with respect to the
registering of complaints alleging violence against women, the State
reported that it had introduced the use of the single form in order to
record cases before different legal bodies. When a woman lodges a
complaint with a competent body, she fills out the form, which is then
classified immediately. The procedures established by law are then
followed, either the issuing of security measures or determining
whether a crime or misdemeanor occurred.
In response to the twelfth recommendation, which addresses the
issue of domestic violence, the State reported that it had enacted the
regulations for its Law to Prevent, Punish, and Eradicate
Intrafamilial Violence and had set up the National Coordinating Office
to Prevent, Punish, and Eradicate Violence in the Family and Against
Women (CONAPREVI). The Commission commends the work of the agency
charged with pursuing public policies in the field of domestic
violence. However, the Commission has received reports that the number
of complaints lodged about acts of violence has been increasing from
year to year.
With respect to raising awareness about the Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the State
reported that it was working, in conjunction with SEPREM, the Defense
Office for Indigenous Women, and the Women’s Forum, on a
Dissemination Plan. Similar combined efforts are taken place for
disseminating the optional protocol to the Convention, which was
ratified by Guatemala in 2001. As part of the dissemination effort, a
popularly accessible version of the optional protocol to the CEDAW is
The Commission has also been informed that several government
agencies provide support of different kinds to women who have suffered
violence. However, the Commission has no information indicating
whether additional human and material resources have been invested in
dissemination initiatives and educational campaigns about gender-based
violence, including its domestic and intrafamilial varieties.
With regard to the thirteenth recommendation, aimed at
expanding efforts to train officials about gender violence issues, the
State reported that the General Directorate of the PNC ordered the
creation of a Gender Equality Office within the PNC, with the task of
incorporating and promoting gender awareness internally within the
institution and in the services it provides. In pursuit of its
mission, it renders service, training, and support functions, it
provides follow-up, coordination, and representation, and it is
preparing a study into the gender equality situation within the PNC.
Other activities reported by the State include the holding of
workshops with the support of organizations such as IEPADES, and joint
projects carried out with the Women’s Defense Office and the Women’s
However, the Commission has received information indicating
that the specific training about violence against women is scarce and
sporadic. The Commission believes that in order to generate a new
culture regarding gender equality, the State must invest resources in
a training program with broad coverage.
With respect to the fourteenth recommendation, which deals with
judicial measures for protecting women who have been subject to or
threatened with violence, the Commission has been informed that even
though progress has taken place on paper, the laws are not enforced.
Congress must issue clear procedural rules for addressing cases
involving gender-based violence against women.
As regards the final recommendation–additional training,
technical assistance, material resources, and oversight for the
entities responsible for investigating and punishing cases of violence
against women–in its comments on this follow-up report the State
reported the existence of a Gender Equality Office within the PNC.
Among the office’s activities, the State referred to the training
given to the rank-and-file and to junior and senior officers on
matters of domestic violence and gender equality. In addition, the
study curriculum at the National Civil Police Academy includes courses
on domestic violence and gender equality.
The State also reported that the Defense Office for Indigenous
Women had trained women leaders in the department of Huehuetenango
and, in addition, carried out the following: dissemination of the
National Policy for the Promotion and Development of Guatemalan Women
and the Equal Opportunities Plan for 2001-2006; promotion and
dissemination of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination against Women and its enforcement; inclusion in legal
amendments of the commitment of achieving equality between women and
men within State agencies at the local, municipal, departmental,
regional, and national levels; adoption of measures to guarantee women
full participation and representation in all spheres of endeavor;
promotion of a range of programs based on observing conventions,
treaties, agreements, and international conference resolutions on the
matter of women’s universal human rights, the plans of actions
handed down by summits and international conferences, and peace
327. The State also reported the Ministry of Labor and Social
Prevision’s creation of its Department for the Promotion of Working
Women, as an agency of the General Directorate of Social Prevision, by
means of Ministerial Agreement No. 11-94 of March 3, 1994, within the
framework of the country’s laws and the international conventions
ratified by Guatemala dealing with the elimination of job
discrimination against women.
328. According to its purposes and functions, this Department,
in conjunction with the General Inspectorate of Labor, coordinates
advisory and oversight services connected with the labor rights of
working women. During 2002 it held seven workshops and eight clinics
with labor inspectors of both sexes in seven regions covered by the
Ministry of Labor and Social Prevision. The topics for these events
were gender equality in labor relations and the enforcement and
interpretation of women workers’ labor rights as set forth in
domestic labor laws. A total of 160 male and 92 female inspectors
attended, giving a total of 252 participants in all.
In July 2002, the Department of Working Women also began
systematizing the complaints of labor law violations submitted to the
General Labor Inspectorate by women workers in the maquiladora sector.
Complaints were filed against an average of 110 companies a month; 38
companies were identified as repeat offenders, and these have been
investigated, brought into line, and given a reasonable amount of time
to comply with the recommendations served on them by the inspectors.
HUMAN RIGHTS OF THOSE UPROOTED BY THE ARMED CONFLICT
In Chapter XIV of the Fifth Report on Guatemala, the Commission
determined that the Resettlement Agreement had been implemented
partially and that there was still much work to be done with regard to
the basic rights and needs of this sector of the population. The
Commission’s analysis concluded that some of the outstanding
commitments were resource-based, requiring an additional investment of
capital and technical support, and that in contrast, others were
systemic, requiring the exercise of political will and action to
overcome long-standing deficiencies, such as the absence of systems to
accurately register and confirm land title, to effectively resolve
land disputes, and to design and implement comprehensive policies to
overcome extreme poverty through sustainable, integral, participatory
With reference to the human rights of those uprooted by the
armed conflict, the Commission offered the State the following
1. Allocate to the public institutions assigned to implement
aspects of the Resettlement Agreement the human and material resources
necessary for the effective discharge of their mandates, and, in
particular, that it strengthen the Technical Committee created to
coordinate and facilitate the terms of the Agreement.
2. Take the budgetary, administrative, and other steps necessary
to complete the process to purchase land for the uprooted population.
3. Adopt further measures, including the allocation of the
necessary human and material support, to facilitate the legalization
of land titles and resolution of ongoing legal disputes over the
ownership of land.
4. Take additional measures–in accordance with the commitment of
the Resettlement Agreement to give priority attention to female-headed
households, and the terms of the Law of the Social Fund–to support
the right of women to own land, and to co-own land with their husbands
or partners, including through measures to train officials working in
this sphere, and to promote knowledge of and respect for this right
among local populations. In order for this right to be exercised
effectively, the State should strengthen efforts to provide women with
access to credit and development projects.
5. Develop a comprehensive, long-term, integral sustainable
development policy within which the specific needs of different
communities can be addressed, and amplify the integration, coverage,
and depth of development projects and programs, with additional
attention to advisory services and technical training. This should
also include encouraging non-agricultural employment alternatives in
areas of low agricultural productivity.
In connection with the preceeding recommendation, adopt the
concrete measures and procedures to implement the commitment of the
Agreement on Resettlement that population groups uprooted in
connection with the conflict shall participate in decision-making in
the design, implementation and oversight of the policies and projects
that affect them, at the local, regional, and national levels. In this
regard, effective participation necessarily requires the dissemination
of adequate information to be used in the taking of decisions.
7. Devote special attention to amplifying the coverage and
enriching the content of education and health services for this
population, continuing to prioritize the need for primary education
and health care, and the need for bilingual education in indigenous
8. Provide additional resources for the creation of basic
infrastructure so that all communities have access, at a minimum, to
potable water and sanitary facilities sufficient for the protection of
health, and for advancing the provision of housing assistance, as well
as the installation of access roads, electricity, and communications
9. Take the legislative and other steps necessary to prolong the
application of the Special Temporary Law on Personal Documentation,
and intensify efforts under the National Plan for Personal
Documentation to ensure that all members of the population uprooted by
the conflict can obtain identity documents.
10. Continue the collaboration of the Congress, OAS, and Volunteer
Firefighters to ensure the completion of demining efforts.
The Commission’s recommendations on the matter at hand were
intended to emphasize the need for implementing short- and medium-term
measures for land purchases and for the reintegration and development
of those Guatemalans who had been uprooted or demobilized.
More than 5,000 property deeds have been handed out in the
municipality of Gomera and in Guanagazapa, Escuintla; San Pedro
Carchá, Alta Verapaz; and the village of San Román, La Libertad
municipality, Petén. This provides the new inhabitants with legal
certainty regarding their tenure of the land.
The State has sent the Commission information on the land
grants that the government has been offering, as compensation, to
uprooted and demobilized individuals. It reports that FONAPAZ bought
property that benefited 71 families as compensation for uprootings and
demobilizations. Thus, deeds to the Claudia Estate and its associated
land, comprising five rural properties, were awarded to the Santiago
Ixcán Former Smallholders Group, on an individual basis for each of
the members. It also reports that the deeds to the property known as
Lot No. 30-A, located in Petén, were issued on behalf of the La
Quetzal Estate Overflow Group.
Similarly, in its comments the State reported that in September
2002, FONAPAZ purchased and handed over five estates in the
departments of Petén, Escuintla, and Suchitepéquez, benefiting 150
families (900 individuals) and allowing the recipients to resettle and
begin the productive integration of their families. The State
indicated that FONAPAZ’s investment totals Q26,298,848.
The information provided by the State notwithstanding, the
Commission has seen no progress as regards budgetary measures for
completing the land acquisition program, which has not yet been
finalized as the government promised. In addition, the Commission
notes with concern that as of the date of its report, the government
had not taken the legal measures necessary to resolve the conflicts of
land ownership and use.
337. In its comments the State reported that it had taken into
account the budgetary measures for dealing with the issue and, most
particularly, it had strengthened the institutions responsible for the
matter. At the same time, it has created agencies such as the
Presidential Unit for Conflict Resolution, which has helped resolve
many cases involving land disputes, thereby benefiting various
The Commission recognizes that the government must pay
particular attention to displacements in Guatemala, with a view toward
restoring the rights that sector of the population were denied. In
light of this, the IACHR urges the State to enforce, in full, the
recommendations made by the Commission in numbers 1, 2, and 3 of its
339. The State reported that it had, to the best of its
abilities, provided the resettled communities with necessary services,
including drinking water, sanitation, roadways, electricity, and
The Commission notes that there has been no significant
progress in complying with the fourth recommendation. From the
analysis of the government’s reports regarding gender issues, the
Commission sees that the recommendations set forth in that section
were not put into practice.
The Commission would like to point out again that the
phenomenon of the uprooted population entails several crosscutting
issues. The State must see that the compensation process for uprooted
families cannot be divorced from a policy of integral, sustainable,
and participatory rural development, provision of resources, access to
such basic services as education, health, and basic infrastructure
(drinking water, sanitation, roads, electricity, and communications).
The Commission thus once again urges the State, in compliance
with the recommendations set forth in numbers 5, 6, 7, and 8 of the
Report, to design a global policy for sustainable, integral, long-term
development that pays due attention to the particular characteristics
of the displaced communities.
As regards the seventh recommendation, in its comments on this
follow-up report the State said that in
response to the commitments acquired under the Peace Accords and the
Specific Plan for Attending to Uprooted Populations, those sectors
that were victims during the armed conflict were given the opportunity
to enter the national education system during 2002. To do this,
training programs for education promoters and standardization programs
were carried out; rural bilingual teachers at the preschool, primary,
and secondary school levels were given training; ten thousand
scholarships were awarded to the children of uprooted families; seven
schools were built specifically for their communities; school
breakfasts were distributed to 95 percent of preschool and primary
pupils; and 65 percent received school supplies.
Regarding the adoption of measures to improve personal
documentation, dealt with in the ninth recommendation, the Commission
notes that unfortunately the State has not taken the steps necessary
to ensure that all members of the uprooted population can obtain
Similarly, the Commission points out the importance of the
State paying due attention to the recommendations made by the
Commission in its last Report regarding the conclusion of the demining