PBI-Guatemala attends media conference by organizations of victims of the internal armed conflict

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On December 11, the Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project posted, “Yesterday we attended the press conference of the Platform of organizations of victims of the internal armed conflict, in which the weakening of the institutions of peace and human rights was condemned, Congress was repudiated for the attempt to approve a general amnesty and concern was expressed before the new government that can continue in this same direction.”

The 36-year-long war (internal armed conflict) in Guatemala began in November 1960 (after a US-backed coup in June 1954) and ended in December 1996 with signing of the Agreement for a Firm and Lasting Peace.

The Commission for Historical Clarification (CEH) registered a total of 42,275 casualties by human rights violations and acts of violence, of that 23,671 were victims of arbitrary execution and 6,159 by forced disappearance.

The CEH found that 83 per cent of the victims were Mayan and 93 per cent of the violations were attributed to state forces and related paramilitary groups.

CMI-Guatemala has reported, “[In October], retired military, economic elites, and conservative politicians … managed to close the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) after 12 years of work dismantling structures of corruption and abuse of power.”

That article adds, “In turn, they have promoted a proposal for an amnesty law that would end all investigation and prosecution of cases of serious human rights violations, and immediately release all those who have been convicted or are in prison awaiting trial in these cases.”

On December 5, the Latin American Working Group posted, “Despite the Guatemalan Constitutional Court ordering the withdrawal of a blanket amnesty law for crimes committed during the conflict, bill 5377, which would shield human rights abusers from prosecution and set war criminals free, members of the Guatemalan Congress continue to try to advance this bill through the legislature.”

PBI first operated a project in Guatemala from 1983-1999, which closed following the Peace Accords. Unfortunately, the human rights situation soon began again to deteriorate, and local organisations asked PBI to return. The current project opened in 2003.

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