Human Rights Committee: Demand Guatemala protect human rights activists

24.08.2015

Guatemala must be called on to tackle violent attacks, repression and impunity for violations against corporate accountability activists, ISHR has told the UN Human Rights Committee in a new report.

Image of briefing paper on the situation of human rights defenders in GuatemalaGuatemala must be called on to tackle violent attacks, repression and impunity for violations against corporate accountability activists, ISHR has told the UN Human Rights Committee in a report published today.

The report findings on the situation of human rights defenders working on business and human rights show that the Guatemalan State is not protecting the civil and political rights of defenders, with those working on business issues facing especially severe risks and obstacles to their work.

It paints a dire picture of the context for human rights defence in Guatemala – where activists face:

  • stigmatisation and defamation campaigns
  • judicial harassment and imprisonment
  • death threats, physical attacks and murder
  • forced evictions of social protests
  • legal restrictions that effectively prohibit or severely restrict legitimate human rights activism

The Human Rights Committee will consider the report by ISHR and the International Platform against Impunity in developing a list of questions to be posed to Guatemala at its next examination. The aim of the review will be to assess Guatemala’s progress towards compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

No improvement so far for human rights defenders in Guatemala

Including numerous case examples, the report outlines the tremendous challenges and violations human rights defenders encouter - especially those whose work brings them in direct conflict with business interests.  

ISHR’s Ben Leather says when the Human Rights Committee last reviewed Guatemala’s performance in 2012, it cited high levels of violence and attacks against activists, insufficient mechanisms to protect them, and campaigns to undermine the initiatives of civil society organisations.

‘Lamentably, the situation is no better today. The present administration has done little to prevent, mitigate and remedy violations against human rights defenders, and instead, has overseen a weakening of the very institutions designed to protect them, and increased the public stigmatisation of their work,’ said Mr Leather.

'The Human Rights Committee must ask Guatemala to clearly outline how it will act to protect human rights defenders, particularly those whose work involves signalling abuses carried out in the context of business operations.’

The report includes findings and concrete recommendations from consultations with human rights defenders in Guatemala, undertaken by ISHR earlier this year. 

For more information contact Ben Leather, ISHR’s Advocacy and Communications Manager, on b.leather@ishr.ch

Thumbnail photo: Flickr, Chris Hartman

Category:

Region
  • Latin America and Caribbean
Topic
  • Corporate accountability
  • Human rights defenders
Mechanism
  • Human Rights Committee (CCPR)
Country
  • Guatemala