PBI works with three main thematic issues in Guatemala in order to better protect human rights defenders; the fight against impunity, land issues and defense of territory.

Last month, PBI accompanied members of the of the Human Rights Firm (BDH) to hearings in two cases. The first one regarding the case of the Virgin of the Assumption Safe Home, where a fire broke out in March 2017 and took the lives of 41 girls and injured 15 others. Currently, a complaint has been filed against the 15 surviving victims claiming their responsibility for the fire. PBI accompnies the lawyers who represent these victims against this complaint and observed the court hearings for several days. 

The second case is the Ixil Genocide Case, where several military defendants were present to testify against high-ranking officers of the army being held accountable for crimes of genocide and force disappearances of over 1421 victims during the government of Romeo Garcia between 1878 and 1982. The hearing was suspended twice and has also been further postponed. PBI accompanies human rights lawyers from the BDH to present this case.

With regard to access to land, PBI continues to work with the Community Council of the Highlands (CCDA). PBI accompanied members of the CCDA in their goals to unite indigenous and peasant organisations to address agrarian conflicts in Guatemala. In addition, PBI accompanied members of the CCDA during a court hearing regarding the murder case of Ramón Choc Sacrab – a member of the CCDA and an indigenous authority of the Ixloc San Pedrito de Cobán community in Alta Verapaz.

PBI accompanied several organisations namely the Union of Peasant Organizations (UVOC), the Peaceful Resistance of La Puya, the Peaceful Resistance Cahabón and the Chinautla Multisectoral in monitoring their security, as a reaction to the current extension of the State of Emergency (SoE) put in place by Morales’ government. The SoE is considered by some a move to protect larger industries in their exploitation of land and natural resources. The SoE has allowed the military to repress peaceful demonstrations in concerned areas.

PBI continues to stand in solidarity with people at the front lines defending human rights. With our efforts, PBI hopes to increase international visibility for those who need a platform for their voices to be heard.

For more information, please visit PBI Guatemala’s website.