Guatemala’s Human Rights: EU Condemns Impunity and Violence Against Activists

Written by | Monday, August 22nd, 2016

The European Union has condemned the human rights situation in Guatemala and expressed its sincere condolences to the families of the assassinated human rights defenders. Over the past half a year, the country has witnessed the assassinations of ten activists. Most recently, armed men posing as policemen forced their way into the house of Ramón Cadena Rámila, Director of the Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists and one of Central America’s most prominent human rights lawyers. Mr Cadena, who played a key role in high-profile human rights cases, was not at home at the time of the raid.

The attacks on human rights defenders and lawyers have intensified as Guatemalan prosecutors are making progress in cases of corruption and extrajudicial killings. Yet, the efforts to punish the perpetrators of atrocities committed during the 1960-1996 civil war have had mixed results and impunity for human rights abuses is still widespread. Violence against human rights defenders, lawyers, trade unionists and journalists thus remains a major concern. The EU supports the country’s efforts to step up the fight against collusion and impunity.

In the previous 2007-2013 budgetary framework, human security and social cohesion were among the main sectors together with economic growth and trade. The EU has played a crucial role in supporting the fight against impunity by strengthening capacity on criminal investigation and special investigation methods, witness protection, fight against organized crime and money laundering. Moreover, Guatemala has had a substantial portfolio of EU thematic projects, which amounted to a over €30 million for the 2007-2013 period. This portfolio includes 52 projects in the sectors such as democracy, human rights, civil society organizations, food security, environment and health.

In 2014-2020, the key development challenges remain to be ensuring human security, defending and developing the rule of law and ending impunity. Other goals include fighting against structural economic and social inequality and discrimination, guaranteeing respect for human rights, in particular those of indigenous people, women and children and combating widespread poverty and malnutrition, in particular in rural areas. The indicative funding for this period is €186.8 million.

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