Press Release 58/14

*IACHR Urges Guatemala to Continue Complying with its International
Obligations and Fighting against Impunity

May 16, 2014

Washington, D.C. – Given the recent adoption by the Congress of the
Republic of Guatemala of Resolution 3-2014, containing recommendations
regarding the scope of the National Reconciliation Act and the Peace
Accords, the Inter-American Commission (IACHR) reiterates the binding
nature of the international human rights obligations undertaken by the
State of Guatemala, and the importance of combating impunity in cases of
grave human rights violations.

The Inter-American Commission recognizes the importance of various
acknowledgments of responsibility made by the State in recent years, during
several cases decided by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. These
include, in particular, the cases of the Río Negro Massacres, the “Las Dos
Erres” Massacre, and the Plan de Sánchez Massacre, perpetrated against
indigenous communities in the context of armed conflict. Moreover, the
Commission recognizes the efforts made and the progress achieved in the
last four years in the investigation and truth-seeking by the current
Attorney General.

Nonetheless, the IACHR observes with concern the fact that the declaration
adopted by Congress on May 13th, in referring to the prosecution of Efraín
Rios Montt, states that “it is legally not viable that the elements that
constitute the crimes mentioned could have happened in Guatemala,
principally with regard to the existence in our homeland of a genocide
during the internal armed conflict.” he declaration further observes that
the investigation and punishment for the grave human rights violations
committed in this context create “conditions contrary to peace” and
“prevent definitive national reconciliation”. Moreover, the first line of
its text explicitly refers to the trial which started one year ago against
retired military officers Efrain Rios Montt and Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez,
and directly urges the judiciary to render justice “in a way that this
justice would produce peace”. This Resolution was approved during the same
week as the new head of the Public Ministry is to be appointed.

The Inter-American Commission considers that a declaration of this nature,
in the current context does not constitute a constructive step, in contrast
with the efforts made by various State institutions to investigate and
punish grave human rights violations and to fight against impunity.

The Inter-American Commission also notes with concern that this Resolution
makes specific reference to the Rios Montt genocide trial, and indicates
that the required elements of that crime have not been met in Guatemala.
Further, it provides indications as to how the judiciary should rule in
such cases. In this regard, the Commission urges the State to respect the
principle of separation of powers, an essential condition of judicial
independence. It recalls that the Constitution of Guatemala itself
establishes, in Article 46, the general principle according to which human
rights treaties and conventions that have been accepted and ratified by
Guatemala take precedence over domestic law.

The IACHR recalls that Article 68 of the American Convention establishes
the obligation to comply with the judgments of the Inter-American Court. In
this regard, the Inter-American Court holds today, May 16th, during its
103rd Regular Session, a hearing to monitor compliance by Guatemala with
eleven judgments (Blake, “Street Children” (Villagran Morales), Bámaca
Velásquez, Mack Chang, Maritza Urrutia, Plan de Sánchez Massacre, Molina
Thiessen, Carpio Nicolle et al., Tiu Tojín, “Las Dos Erres” Massacre and
Chitay cases). The purpose of this hearing, as the Court has announced, is
to receive updated and detailed information on reparations and the
obligation to investigate, establish the facts, prosecute, and, if
necessary, punish those responsible. Despite the emblematic nature of these
cases and the time passed since the various judgments, the obligation to
investigate, prosecute, and punish those responsible has not been
fulfilled. It is imperative that the State take the concrete and critical
measures necessary to comply with its fundamental obligations under
international law.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS),
the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American
Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to
promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative
body to the OAS in this matter. The Commission is composed of seven
independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS
General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or

*Información de Contacto / Contact Info *

María Isabel Rivero
Directora de prensa y comunicación de la CIDH / IACHR Press and
Communication Director
1889 F Street NW, Washington, DC, 20009, United States of America / Estados
Unidos de América
Tel. (1) 202 370 9001