PBI-Guatemala expresses concern for imprisoned human rights defenders now at heightened risk due to the coronavirus pandemic
On March 31, the Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project posted, “Thinking about Bernardo Caal Xol from the Peaceful Resistance of Cahabon, Jorge Coc and Marcelino Xol Cucul of the CCDA and Agustín Ramírez and Timoteo Suchité de Rosa, indigenous authorities and members of Nuevo Dia, all defenders of the territory imprisoned.”
In its Facebook post, PBI-Guatemala highlights an article from La Hora.
That article reports:
“Adverse conditions of confinement for more than 25 thousand people deprived of liberty, in the 21 Guatemalan prisons constitute a focus of risk in the face of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, because, in a prison space, which should be destined for one person , there can be up to four; In addition, transfers continue and prison personnel constantly enter and leave prisons, coupled with water shortages and hygiene measures, according to an analysis by the Center for National Economic Research (CIEN).”
On March 25, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet issued this statement: “Now, more than ever, governments should release every person detained without sufficient legal basis, including political prisoners and others detained simply for expressing critical or dissenting views.”
The International Committee of the Red Cross has also warned, “An outbreak of COVID-19 in prison could be devastating to the population there, especially an overcrowded prison where general health is already low.”
Furthermore, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders has previously stated, “The Observatory reiterates its concern about the deepening of the patterns of persecution and violence against people who defend human rights in Guatemala.”
Peace Brigades International-Canada joins with PBI-Guatemala in expressing our concern for criminalized human rights defenders who are now facing increased risks in prison due to the coronavirus pandemic.