Guatemala: Attorney General’s office approves unprecedented protocol for investigations on crimes against human rights defenders.

Guatemala City/ San José, May 30th 2018. – The Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) and the Unit for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders in Guatemala (UDEFEGUA) greet the issuance of the General Instruction of the Attorney General’s office that approves the Investigation Protocol on Investigation of Crimes Committed against Human Rights Defenders May 2018.

This tool recognizes the important role that human rights defenders have in the reinforcement of democracy and the Rule of Law. It also incorporates international standards for the purpose of guaranteeing due diligence in the investigations. In its construction, organizations of civil society were included, among other actors, who are worried for the defenselessness of the people who carry out this work.

Impunity is repeatedly a response to violations that are committed against defenders in Guatemala. In just 2017, UDEFEGUA registered 493 attacks against defenders, noting that most of them are still in impunity. In view of this panorama, the instruction signed by the Attorney General’s office is a relevant tool to address this problem and advance access to truth and justice.

Among other relevant aspects, the protocol establishes the obligation to consider, as the first hypothesis of investigation, if the violation was intended to limit the job of the defender; as well as requiring the analysis of the context in which the victim develops. At the same time, specific parameters of investigation are established regarding the type of defender, for example, considering gender diversity, sexual orientation, and multiculturalism, among others.  Additionally, standards on comprehensive damage repair are incorporated and the instruction is expected to be evaluated.

“After three years of dialogue, training, and joint construction of the Protocol of Investigation, it is positive to finally see a tool that exists that guides attorneys from all of the country in how to investigate crimes committed against human rights defenders. This instruction is a powerful tool that can be used to combat impunity, almost in total, when crimes against human rights defenders are come across,” declared Jorge Santos, coordinator of UDEFEGUA.

Marcia Aguiliz of CEJIL affirmed: “This protocol is a model that other States from the continent should follow. Human rights defenders in Guatemala can now count on an additional tool to demand diligent investigation that contributes in minimizing the risk they run for defending human rights”.

CEJIL and UDEFEGUA congratulate the Attorney General’s office on this decisive step towards justice and we urge them to start implementing it as soon as possible. To the community of human rights defenders, we urge you to get to know this protocol and demand that it is implemented.


Download the Protocol HERE