Case of the Los Josefinos Massacre will be tried in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights
After 39 years of the events, on February 17th and 18th, the victims and survivors of the massacre that occurred in Petén at the hands of the Guatemalan Army, will be heard in the highest human rights court in the region
16.February.2021

Guatemala City and San José, Costa Rica- February 16th, 2021- The Association of Relatives of the Detained-Disappeared of Guatemala (FAMDEGUA), the Human Rights Law Firm (BDH) and the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) announced this morning the public hearing in the case Los Josefinos Massacre vs. Guatemala, which will be held on February 17th and 18th before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

Due to the conditions of the pandemic, the hearing will be held virtually, but will include the declaration of victims, experts and the participation of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, as well as the arguments of the representative organizations and the State of Guatemala

The case of Los Josefinos reaches the Court 39 years after a unit of the Guatemalan Army entered the small village located in La Libertad, Petén, executing men, women and children; and forcing survivors to be displaced for years, some even to the present day. The massacred bodies were left in a common grave, the whereabouts of some people are unknown and several minors were separated from their families. The State never carried out diligent actions to investigate and punish these acts and at present, the crimes committed remain in impunity. Neither have diligent efforts been made to repair the damage to the community or to the victims and their families, nor to ensure that events like these will not occur again.

In this regard, Carlos Navarijo, representative of the victims, recalled: “The survivors were forced to flee to other places, even outside the country. We have suffered persecution for a long time”, also he asked the Guatemalan population to accompany their community in this hearing “We ​​ask you to accompany us on this path to justice, the Josefinos case is one of the many crimes against humanity committed by the army of Guatemala that continue unpunished. As Guatemalan citizens, we do not want impunity to be the norm”.

Guatemala has already been previously convicted in 14 cases related to serious human rights violations in the context of the intern armed conflict, so this new hearing is presented as an opportunity to advance access to full justice. "The State must reflect because there are more than 600 massacres that were committed during the internal armed conflict," said Edgar Perez, director of the BDH who added, "We hope that the State assumes its responsibility and does not leave this type of atrocities unpunished”.

For Marcela Martino, deputy director of CEJIL for Central America and Mexico, the Court is expected to issue a ruling that recalls the right to the truth that victims and society as a whole have; right that includes having access to military files and any other document necessary to clarify the responsibilities of the case. “In addition, this case gives the State of Guatemala the opportunity to make internal forced displacement visible, because of the armed conflict and other multiple and complex causes that are still in force. Guatemala needs to recognize the breadth and depth of this phenomenon to prevent it and attend to the needs of the people who have suffered it”.

Finally, Manuel Antonio Farfán, director of FAMDEGUA recalled that this case reaches the Inter-American Court because of the insistence and dignity of the surviving families in the search for justice “for the people who murdered, those who disappeared and the families who were displaced, both within the Republic of Guatemala and abroad” and called on citizens to accompany the audience and the Josefinos community.

The hearing in this case will take place on the morning of Wednesday, February 17th and Thursday, February 18th, starting at 8:00 am (Guatemala time) and can be followed by the social networks of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.