PBI-Guatemala accompanies law firm at hearing related to the Hogar Seguro shelter fire

Published by Brent Patterson on

On January 10, the Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project posted on its Facebook page, “On January 7, 8 and 9, we accompanied the Human Rights Law Firm (BDH) to the first declaration hearings of the third group of syndicates for the Hogar Seguro case, in the Fourth Criminal Court.”

PBI-Guatemala adds, “Four people are accused of mistreatment against minors, manslaughter, breach of duties and wrongful injuries. At the next hearing on January 24, Judge Rodolfo Laynez will decide whether or not to tie the accused people to trial.”

PBI-Guatemala further explains on its website, “The defendants in this first debate include staff from the Secretary of Social Welfare (SBS): the secretary, the sub-secretary and the director of the home. A total of 12 people are charged and will be tried in three separate proceedings (in addition to the three SBS persons mentioned, the accused include personnel from the Attorney General’s Office – PGN -, from the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office – PDH-, personnel from the National Civil Police – PNC – and a peace judge).”

Forty-one girls, who were 14 to 17 years of age, died in a fire at the Hogar Seguro Virgen de la Asuncion shelter south-east of Guatemala City on March 8, 2017.

The Guardian has reported, “It has emerged that 56 girls had been locked inside a room measuring 6.8 metres by 7 metres as punishment for organising a protest the day before against cramped conditions and abuse by staff. More than 700 children lived at the home, which had capacity for 400-500.”

“The fire, which began in the early hours, sparked angry demonstrations in the capital over the government’s failure to protect young people in its care. Complaints about abuse at the centre had been made, but not followed up. A month before the fire, Guatemala’s human rights commission had asked for it to be closed.”

In March 2019, Al Jazeera reported, “Several government employees, including police, are now on trial for their role in the fire. The girls were locked in a room and shelter officials waited for nine minutes as the girls burned before they unlocked the door.”

“Some of the victims of the March 8, 2017 fire in the Hogar Seguro Virgen de la Asuncion shelter had run away from home, fleeing abuse and sexual assault by relatives. But many faced more of the same inside the shelter.”

That article adds, “For years, girls reported being raped and forced into prostitution inside the state-run facility, but their protests were ignored.”

You can read more about this situation from PBI-Guatemala in this article.

Categories: News Updates

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