Guatemala: No protection, no justice: killings of women (an update)

July 18, 2006

Guatemala: No protection, no justice: killings of women (an update)

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  • The Guatemalan government should state that gender-based violence is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Officials that make unfounded public statements discrediting the serious nature of crimes committed against women should be dealt with appropriately.
  • Impeding investigations or failing to take immediate action to prevent injury to women and girls believed to be at immediate risk should be the subject of disciplinary action.
  • Acts of harassment and intimidation against relatives of murdered girls and women, witnesses or members of organizations who support them should be thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators bought to justice.

Level of coordination and quality of investigations

  • Efforts underway to improve the quality of criminal investigations and to improve the coordination and cooperation between state agencies should be fully coordinated and given sufficient political support and resources.
  • The Public Ministry and Judiciary should sign the agreement -- in line with article 275 of the Guatemalan Constitution -- without further delay, to empower the PDH to monitor the investigation of cases of murdered women and girls by the Public Ministry.
  • The cooperation and coordination between police investigators and public prosecutors should be strengthened to ensure immediate, coordinated and effective investigations into all cases of abduction and murder of women and girls.
  • The Public Ministry's Witness Protection Programme should be strengthened to guarantee the safety of both witnesses and family members. This should also include the period following a conviction when individuals are still at risk of retaliatory violence.
  • Steps need to be taken to guarantee the independence, and availability of adequate human and financial resources of the recently established National Forensic Institute.

Missing women and girls

  • An urgent search mechanism for missing women and girls should be created without further delay.

Gender perspective

  • All police investigators, crime scene investigation officials and forensic experts should receive intensive and ongoing training in investigative techniques, particularly in the collection and preservation of forensic evidence in relation to gender-based violence. Such training should refer to international standards and expertise including on how to detect, document and investigate cases of gender-based violence.

Discriminatory legislation

  • Congress should approve the draft law to criminalize sexual harassment and the draft law (no. 2630) which proposes the abolition of certain discriminatory provisions and the criminalization of other acts of violence against women, without further delay.
  • Article 106 which allows for the pardoning by the victim in certain crimes, should be reformed to not be applicable in cases of rape, violence against women in the family and other sexual crimes.
  • The Constitutional Court should permanently remove Article 200 from the Guatemalan Penal Code in line with its international obligations regarding violence against women and Article 46 of the Guatemalan Constitution which provides that international human rights treaties take precedence over internal law.

Collection of data on violence against women