01/30/2019

Urgent Action: Bill Could Grant Amnesty for Grave Crimes (Guatemala: UA 12.19)


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.

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  1. Write a letter in your own words or using the sample below as a guide to one or both government officials listed. You can also email, fax, call or Tweet them.
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Álvaro Enrique Arzú Escobar
President of Congress
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @AlvaroArzuE @CongresoGuate
Ambassador Manuel Espina
Embassy of Guatemala
2220 R St. NW, Washington DC 20008
Phone: 202 745 4953 I Fax: 202 745 1908
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @EmbaGuateUSA
Contact Form: https://bit.ly/2CqkgUO
Salutation: Dear Ambassador

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,

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