February 17, 2021

The Honourable Marc Garneau, P.C., M.P.

Minister of Foreign Affairs

House of Commons

Ottawa, On K1A 0A2

Dear Minister Garneau:

We write you on behalf of the Americas Policy Group (APG) to express our concern regarding efforts of the government of Guatemala to undermine the Human Rights Ombudperson’s office (PDH), an arms-length institution of the Guatemalan State.

The APG, a coalition of Canadian civil society organizations that work closely with partners in Latin America, has observed with dismay the progressive undermining in recent years of Guatemalan institutions whose mandate is to combat corruption and impunity in the country.

We are particularly concerned with efforts by the National Congress and the administration of President Alejandro Giammattei to undermine the office of the Human Rights Ombudsperson, one of the last arms-length state institutions that still actively monitors human rights in the country.

The Government’s measures against the PDH include efforts to cut the institution’s budget and public declarations aimed at discrediting Ombudsperson Jordán Rodas Andrade. These actions take place in a context where rights violations in Guatemala are on the rise again. The Unit to Protect Human Rights Defenders in Guatemala (UDEFEGUA), documented 1,004 attacks in 2020, including 15 assassinations and 22 assassination attempts against human rights defenders .

In January 2020, as the Giammattei government assumed office, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights referred to “a challenging human rights context, with persisting high levels of inequality, discrimination, insecurity and impunity. The year 2019 was marked by significant setbacks and actions aimed at obstructing the advancement of human rights, the rule of law, and the fight against corruption and impunity.”

We urge the Canadian government to make a public declaration of support for the work of the Human Rights Ombudsperson, and to explore with other countries of the “Grupo Filtro,” ways to provide supplementary funding to the PDH.

Representatives of the Americas Policy Group would be very much interested in meeting with Canada’s ambassador to Guatemala to discuss steps to prevent the further erosion of institutions that combat corruption and impunity in Guatemala.

We thank you for your attention to this matter.


Laura Ramirez 


Americas Policy Group Americas Policy Group

Robin Buyers


Americas Policy Group Americas Policy Group