Statement by United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General
on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Hawa Bangura:


(12 April 2013)

I welcome the efforts of Guatemalan authorities to investigate crimes of
sexual violence that occurred during the country’s internal armed
conflict from 1960 to 1996. The ongoing judicial proceedings against a
former Head of State, President Efraín Ríos Montt, and an ex-chief of
military intelligence, Jose Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez, for genocide and
crimes against humanity give hope to the thousands of victims who
suffered during the 36-year conflict in Guatemala. Sexual violence must
never be treated as an inevitable part of armed conflict, but as the
internationally recognized crime it is.

The pain and brutality haunting survivors of sexual violence is
difficult to comprehend. Therefore, their bravery in coming forward to
explain what they have suffered should not be underestimated.
Ultimately, their testimonies will help ensure that sexual violence
crimes do not remain hidden in silence and impunity.

Today Guatemala is demonstrating its commitment to the rule of law and a
peaceful future by continuing to confront its violent past. I urge the
authorities to guarantee a fair trial and ensure the protection of
victims, witnesses, human rights defenders, and law officials. Justice
in Guatemala has been delayed for so many, but it must not be denied.

For additional information, please contact:

Mattias Sundholm at +1 917 628 3531 or, or
La Neice Collins at +1 917 714 9430 or

with the Office of the SRSG on Sexual Violence in Conflict.