Written by: Maria Reyes
On June 7 in the Guatemalan Congress, the Valor party, led by Zury Rios (daughter of Rios Montt) presented Law 5920 for the consolidation of peace and reconciliation, also known as the “Amnesty Law”. This proposed law is not new. In February of this year, the Constitutional Court (CC) granted an injunction that forced Congress to shelve the previous amnesty bill, Bill 5377, created in 2019 to reform the National Reconciliation Law with a similar purpose.
The content of the new law proposes to relieve from criminal responsibility those who participated in the armed conflict from November 20, 1960 until the signing of the Peace Accords on December 29, 1996, but also aims to vacate all sentences related to the crimes of the Internal Armed Conflict, which lasted 36 years in Guatemala.
The proposed law comes a few days after the capture of 12 former military personnel linked to crimes against humanity in the case known as the Death Squad Dossier Case. In which, a document was exposed which registers the disappearance of 183 people by the security forces between 1983 and 1985; the Public Ministry, through the Human Rights Prosecutor’s Office, seeks to clarify the responsibility of military commanders of that time.
For constitutional and human rights experts, amnesty for war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and other crimes committed during the Internal Armed Conflict is clearly unconstitutional, as has already been resolved by Guatemalan law and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
Victims, survivors, and their families continue to demand justice to shed light on the acts committed during the internal armed conflict, where more than 200,000 people died and more than 45,000 disappeared. Among them, around 5,000 children. According to the report of the Historical Clarification Commission (CEH), 93% of these crimes were perpetrated by the Army.
Memory, truth and justice.