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UA 012/19
Guatemala
Aktiv seit 29. Januar 2019 | Noch 23 Tage Laufzeit
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11.02.2019: News

Action is needed immediately as bill 5377 (aimed at extending an amnesty for grave human rights violations perpetrated during the internal armed conflict) is one step closer to be approved. The second discussion is scheduled for this Wednesday 13th February. The law could be then passed during the third and last discussion. If passed at least 30 persons sentenced by Guatemalan courts would be released within 24 hours, putting at risk thousands of victims, witnesses and lawyers and the proceeding against other dozens of alleged perpetrators would be permanently suspended. Please encourage your networks to take action.

Digital action is encouraged. Please tweet:

Bill 5377 threatens the rights of victims to achieve justice for atrocities experienced during the #Guatemala civil war. Don’t let grave crimes go unpunished! #NoAla5377 @AlvaroArzuE @CongresoGuate

Bill could grant amnesty for grave crimes

AI-Index: AMR 34/9750/2019

Guatemala’s Congress could imminently pass a law that would grant an amnesty to those suspected or found guilty of crimes such as genocide, torture, and enforced disappearances during the internal armed conflict (1960-1996). The bill could lead to the release of those found guilty within 24 hours of its approval. It would also lead to the suspension of ongoing investigations into these crimes. Guatemala’s Congress must refrain from passing this bill to respect the rights of victims to justice, truth and reparation.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Bill 5377 was originally presented in November 2017 by Congressman Fernando Linares Beltranena, and was co-signed by 12 other members. It aims to repeal articles 2, 4 and 8 of the National Reconciliation Law and amend articles 1, 5 and 11, leading to the establishment of a general amnesty for crime acts relating to the country’s civil war, including for individuals accused of serious crimes under international law.

According to the Commission for Historical Clarification, established to clarify human rights violations during the internal armed conflict, approximately 200,000 persons were killed or disappeared during the internal armed conflict (1960-1996). 93% of the violations were attributed to state forces and related paramilitary groups, whereas 3% were attributed to insurgency groups.

After decades of impunity, from 2008 onwards at least 30 former military officials, military commissioners and former members of civil defence patrols have been convicted of crimes such as torture, enforced disappearances, extrajudicial executions, sexual violence and sexual slavery, under international law. If passed, the bill would lead to the immediate release of all the individuals already convicted and the suspension of any ongoing investigations.

The proposed reform passed the first reading, and to become a law it needs to pass two more readings and be approved article by article. The second reading could be tabled at any time during the following weeks.

 

Take action

  • Write an appeal in your own words or use the model letter below.
  • Please take action before 12 March 2019.
  • Preferred language: Spanish. You can also write in your own language.

 

Model letter

Dear Mr Arzú,

On 17 January, the Guatemalan Congress approved the first reading of Bill 5377 to reform the National Reconciliation Law. This bill has progressed despite being rejected by the Congress' own Human Rights Commission. It aims to extend an amnesty to those accused of serious international crimes against humanity, such as genocide, torture and enforced disappearances, that took place during the country’s internal armed conflict. If passed, the bill would lead to the suspension of ongoing investigations into these crimes and the immediate release of those already convicted.

The bill represents a serious setback for the rights of thousands of victims in the country to achieve truth and justice for the atrocities they and their families experienced during the conflict. It also breaches Guatemala’s international obligation to investigate, prosecute and punish grave crimes.

On several occasions, Guatemala’s tribunals and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights have ruled that amnesties for crimes under international law are incompatible with states’ human rights obligations, and multiple international human rights bodies and organizations, including the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, amongst others, have consequently condemned this bill.

I urge you to respect the right to justice of victims in Guatemala by not tabling Bill 5377 for debate and to refrain from passing it into a law. The advancement of this bill would represent a severe breach of Guatemala’s international human rights obligations.

Yours sincerely,

Appeals to

Currently no delivery of foreign mail in Guatemala.
Please send appeals via the embassy or e-mail/Twitter.

Álvaro Enrique Arzú Escobar
President of Congress
9 Avenida 9-44 Zona 1
Guatemala City
Guatemala

Email: aarzu@congreso.gob.gt
Twitter: @AlvaroArzuE @CongresoGuate

Salutation: Dear Mr Arzú,

 

 

Copies to

Ambassade du Guatemala
Jubiläumsstrasse 41
3005 Berne

Fax: 031 351 10 72
E-mail: suiza@minex.gob.gt // guatemala@bluewin.ch

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