PBI-Guatemala accompanies BDH at CREOMPAZ hearing
Yesterday, the PBI – Guatemala Project posted (in Spanish) on their Facebook page, “We accompanied the BDH and the surviving women and victims of sexual violence in the CREOMPAZ case (Military Zone 21 of Cobán) in the Femicide room, to deliver a memorial in which they demand that a writ of amparo be issued, given that they have been omitted the acts of sexual violence in that case.”
In terms of context to understand the background and importance of what happened yesterday:
BDH refers to the Human Rights Law Firm (Bufete de Derechos Humanos – BDH). PBI-Guatemala has accompanied this law firm since 2013.
2- Military Zone 21/CREOMPAZ
Military Zone 21 refers to a military base, located about 220 kilometres north-east of Guatemala City, that was the site of extreme state violence against men, women and children in the 1980s during the internal armed conflict.
The military base is now named the Regional Training Centre for Peacekeeping Operations (CREOMPAZ), a United Nations training base for peacekeepers.
In 2012, forensic anthropologists began to excavate clandestine graves at CREOMPAZ. They uncovered the remains of 558 people, 92 of whom have been identified.
3- INTERNAL ARMED CONFLICT
The internal armed conflict (1960-1996) followed the US-backed coup in 1954 that toppled a democratically-elected government that had introduced a minimum wage, near-universal suffrage, and began granting property to landless peasants.
The 36-year-long ‘civil war’ resulted in 200,000 deaths and up to 50,000 people forcibly disappeared.
The Commission for Historical Clarification found that the Guatemalan government was responsible for more than 90 per cent of the deaths, disappearances and other human rights violations during the war and that 83 per cent of the victims were Indigenous Maya.
4- LEGAL PROCESS
In January 2016, the Guatemalan Public Ministry charged a number of former military officials for crimes that took place at Military Zone 21.
Later that year, Judge Claudette Domínguez ruled that eight high-ranking former military officials would go to trial but accepted only 29 of the 154 witnesses proposed by the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
All of the survivors of sexual violence at Military Zone 21 were excluded as witnesses.
5- FEMICIDE COURT
In December 2018, plaintiffs appealed to the Femicide Court to rule that military officials should also be tried for crimes of sexual violence.
The Criminal Court for Crimes of Femicide and Other Forms of Violence against Women was established in Guatemala in 2010.
These special courts deal with gender-based crimes and were developed after the Femicide Act was passed in 2008.
6- WRIT OF AMPARO
A writ of amparo is a legal remedy seeking a protection order. The writ of amparo, the subject of the demand made yesterday, was first requested in March 2017.
Peace Brigades International continues to monitor this situation closely.