Guatemala, narcoEstado racista y genocida
Guatemala’s trial of the decade in ten facts
8 May 2013
(…) 1. Guatemala is located in Central America, bordering Mexico. (…)
2. Between 1960 and 1996, Guatemala was immersed in a bloody internal armed conflict that pitted the army against guerrilla groups. More than 200,000 men, women and children were murdered or disappeared during this 36-year-long war, most of them were indigenous.
3. General Jose Efrain Rios Montt led the country’s military government between March 1982 and August 1983 – one of the bloodiest periods of the conflict when there was an aggressive campaign targeting anyone deemed to be supporting left-wing guerrillas.
4. The conflict ended in 1996 with the signing of a Peace Accord in which the government pledged to clarify the truth about what had happened in the three decades of violence. In 1999, a report by the UN-sponsored Commission of Historical Clarification concluded that the Guatemalan state was responsible for 93 per cent of abuses. (…)
5. This is the first time a former Guatemalan head of state is being tried for genocide. The case against Rios Montt has been ongoing since 2001, but has been subject to a number of obstacles, including numerous constitutional appeals filed on his behalf and his immunity as a member of congress, which he lost in January 2012.
6. Rios Montt is charged with being the intellectual author of the death of 1,771 people, enforced displacement of 29,000, sexual abuse against 8 women and torture or at least 14. In March 2012, he was also charged with the death of 201 in Dos Erres, Peten, in December 1982 – no date has been yet set for the latest charges to be heard.
7. The trial against Rios Montt and General Mauricio Rodriguez Sanchez – his former head of intelligence – started on 19 March 2013. On 18 April, in the final phase of the trial, after more than 100 witnesses and experts had appeared, a judge in a separate Court from the trial Court ordered the trial to be annulled and returned to a pre trial phase.
8. The trial court reconvened on 19 April and refused to annul the trial, but did suspend proceedings until higher courts resolved the matter. After a series of rulings by higher courts, on 30 April the trial resumed.
9. Former generals Mejia Victores – who was Defence Minister under Rios Montt and then succeeded him as president – and the former Army Chief of Staff, Hector Mario Lopez Fuentes, have also been charged but the cases against them were suspended due to their health state.
10. In August 2011, in one of the most recent trials against those responsible for massacres, four soldiers were sentenced to more than 6,000 years in prison for killing 250 people in the northern town of Dos Erres in 1982.
2. Statement of the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, Mr. Adama Dieng, on the judicial process against the former Head of State and former Chief of Intelligence of Guatemala
23 April 2013
The Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Mr. Adama Dieng, urges the judicial authorities involved in the trial of former Head of State Jose Efrain Rios Montt and former Chief of Intelligence Jose Mauricio Rodriguez Sanchez to conclude the case and bring accountability for the atrocity crimes committed during the internal armed conflict in Guatemala, which lasted from 1960 to 1996.
Jose Efrain Rios Montt and Jose Mauricio Rodriguez face charges of genocide and crimes against humanity in relation to human rights violations and abuses committed against the Mayan Ixil population in the Quiche department of Guatemala between 1982 and 1983. The United Nations-backed Historical Clarification Commission, formed after the 1996 peace accord, described what happened as “acts of genocide.”
A decision by a first-instance judge on 18 April called for annulment of the trial, which is taking place at the Guatemalan Court for High Risk Crimes and was reaching its final stages. This decision is regarded as illegal by the panel of judges in charge of the trial, who suspended the process until, ultimately, the Constitutional Court decides as to whether the trial can continue.
“I appeal to the judicial authorities to act responsibly and prevent any attempt at interference, obstruction of justice or manipulation of the law, which would seriously undermine the credibility of the judicial system in Guatemala,” said Mr. Dieng. “The victims of the atrocities committed during the civil war in Guatemala and their families have waited many years for justice; I hope that they will not have to continue to wait. Justice delayed is justice denied.”
“I would like to pay tribute to the courage of survivors and witnesses who have testified during this trial,” said Mr. Dieng, “as well as the incredible work done to collect and analyse the information that serves as the basis for the charges.” Mr. Dieng acknowledged the instrumental role played by lawyers and civil society organisations in this regard. “I would also like to recognise the important work of the Office of the Attorney General and those members of the judiciary who have sought to end impunity for the crimes committed during the internal armed conflict.” Mr. Dieng also echoed calls for the authorities to continue to guarantee the security of all those involved in the proceedings.
Due to the significance of the present case, a representative of the Special Adviser was present during court sessions on 18 and 19 April 2013. “This is the first time that a former head of State has been indicted by a national tribunal on charges of genocide. With this process, Guatemala has established an historical precedent and should serve as an example to those States that have failed to hold accountable those individuals responsible for serious and massive human rights violations.”
“Only in this way can Guatemala consolidate its peace process and build trust and confidence among its diverse populations. Such trust and the credibility of its institutions are indispensable for the prevention of future abuses.” (…)