Major Progress Made in Human Rights Protections since Guatemala’s Peace Accords 15 Years Ago, Although Much Work Remains, Human Rights Committee Told
Major Progress Made in Human Rights Protections since Guatemala’s Peace Accords 15 Years Ago, Although Much Work Remains, Human Rights Committee Told
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Human Rights Committee
2874th Meeting* (PM)
Major Progress Made in Human Rights Protections since Guatemala’s Peace Accords
15 Years Ago, Although Much Work Remains, Human Rights Committee Told
Introducing Report, Delegation Highlights Transitional Justice, Indigenous Rights;
Experts Pose Questions on Violence against Women, Reparations, States of Emergency
Fifteen years had passed since peace accords had been signed in Guatemala to bring to an end a 36-year-long internal armed conflict that left behind serious socio-economic consequences and human rights violations, Gert Rosenthal, Permanent Representative of Guatemala to the United Nations, told the Human Rights Committee today, as he presented the country’s third periodic report.
Although major progress had been achieved in that time, especially in the areas of transitional justice and establishing indigenous people’s rights, a lot remained to be done, he said. Of the previous recommendations from the Human Rights Committee, the 18‑member expert body that monitors global implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Guatemala had, according to the Government, “a high level of compliance with 17 per cent, a medium level compliance with 43 per cent and a low level with 40 per cent”.
In addition to the criminal prosecution and punishment of those responsible for human rights violations during the conflict, it was also necessary “to know the truth” in order to make way for remedial measures such as reparations, Mr. Rosenthal stated. The national compensation programme, the Peace Secretariat and the Presidential Commission for Human Rights had been integrated to enable that process.
It was now possible for users to access information on the internal armed conflict using archives, such as that of the national police, the file of the Ministry of Interior and the archives of the Secretariat for Social Welfare. As many as 24,084 victims of violations of human rights during the conflict had already received reparations through the national reparations programme’s work.
Even though the State was built “on a rigid foundation that allowed exclusion”, he added, Guatemala was a multicultural country and there was increasing awareness of the need to respect the rights of indigenous people. Equality had been established as an essential value, and discrimination as a crime, in the national legal framework. An indigenous affairs unit had been created in order to ensure access to justice for the 22 First Nations of Maya origin, as well as Xinca, Garifuna and Mestizo. Further, recognizing the special vulnerability of indigenous women and “the added burden of social exclusion and extreme poverty”, the gender coordination approach had been created to respond to their needs.
When the floor was opened for discussion, Committee experts asked for more information about reparations to the victims of the conflict and voiced concerns about the high levels of crime against women.
Was it true that the President of Guatemala had said that there had never been genocide or any crimes against humanity in Guatemala, Fabián Omar Salvioli, expert from Argentina and Committee Vice-Chairperson, asked. Even though everyone had freedom of expression, it was impossible “to ignore the impact of a statement of the highest authority”, he stated, and asked whether “full reparations” were offered to victims’ families, or if reparations focused only on economic compensation.
Christine Chanet, expert from France, asked for more information regarding femicide as the Government had different figures from non-governmental organizations. “There’s still a lot of violence against women,” she said, especially indigenous women. Questioning the high number of states of emergency that had been declared in Guatemala, she said that emergencies were being used in Guatemala to fight criminal activities, for which it was not intended.
In response, Mr. Rosenthal stated that the President’s statement on genocide had been taken out of context. His statement was “his personal opinion at that time” and the Supreme Court had jurisdiction over the matter of whether genocide had been committed or not.
The declaration of a state of emergency had always reflected what was set forth in the Covenant, he emphasized. The state of emergency was declared for two types of situations: rapes of women taking place in that area of the country and drug-trafficking activities. Guatemala believed that the frequency of those crimes warranted a state of emergency.
On the issue of reparations, Mr. Rosenthal said the national reparations programme was carrying out investigations and “rethinking” how the programme would continue. There were “five measures of reparation — material restitution, economic restitution, cultural restitution, dignifying victims and psycho-social reparations”. Cultural reparations depended on the sector of the population. For instance, if the victim belonged to the indigenous people, a Mayan ceremony might be conducted. Psycho-social reparations included the act of listening to victims and enabling their social reinsertion. The Government was building monuments for the victims, naming parks after them and had requested the Ministry Of Education to remember this “dark period” in history textbooks.
The increase in complaints of violence against women was a good sign, stated Alba Trejo, Presidential Commissioner against Femicide. “The silence has been broken,” she said. Citing an average of 12,000 reports, she said that the Commission was working with the Public Prosecutor’s Office to avoid impunity for perpetrators, and $2.5 million had been allocated for a gender focus and specialized prosecutions for violence against women. Providing further details, Ervin Gómez, Supreme Court Judge, said that the Supreme Court had created specialized anti-femicide courts in three key areas of the country that required attention. Also, since 2006, the women and gender analysis unit had been in operation.
The Human Rights Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. Tuesday, 20 March, to continue its consideration of Guatemala’s third periodic report.
The Human Rights Committee, the 18-member expert body that monitors global implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, continued its 104th session today with discussion of the third periodic report of Guatemala (document CCPR/C/GTM/3). Issued 31 March 2010, the report contains an article-by-article discussion of the implementation of the Covenant, including on the right to life, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, electoral rights and rights to due process and a fair trial.
The Presidential Commission for Coordination of Human Rights Policies, which prepared the report, received support and technical assistance from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Guatemala. An inter-ministerial participatory approach was taken, designed by OHCHR and improved through thematic workshops to compile information. As forums for exchange, the workshops allowed for analysing information and disseminating national and international instruments.
Questionnaires also had been sent to each institution consulted, the report states, in order to obtain input for responding to the Human Rights Committee’s general comments and concluding observations. The report also notes that the inter-ministerial approach proved to be an appropriate methodology, as it resulted in the creation of a network of officials to be consulted for updates to the information submitted.
Presentation of Guatemala’s Report
Presenting the third periodic report of Guatemala on behalf of the President of Guatemala’s Presidential Commission on Human Rights, GERT ROSENTHAL, Permanent Representative of Guatemala to the United Nations, stated that the report had been drafted by means of a participatory methodology, consulting various institutions, including the Ministries of the Interior, Education, Public Health, Labour and Public Finance, the Secretariat for Social Welfare, the Supreme Court, National Statistics Institute and the Office of the Public Prosecutor. As a result of that process, important issues of direct care had been identified, allowing for inter-agency coordination.
The Human Rights Committee had given several recommendations to Guatemala, he stated, in response to the first and second periodic reports. In order to track those recommendations, Guatemala had established in 2009 a system of follow-up to the recommendations issued by the body of treaties and special procedures of the United Nations and the Inter-American system. Guatemala had been the first country to set up such a system, which permitted the identification of the legal body involved, the type of action and the level of compliance. That made it possible for responsible institutions to identify their commitments.
Out of the 35 recommendations on civil and political rights, Guatemala had a high level of compliance when it came to 17 per cent of recommendations, a medium level of compliance with 43 per cent, and a low level with 40 per cent, he said. He also highlighted “the excellent communication” the State had had with OHCHR in Guatemala.
For 36 years, Guatemala had suffered from an internal armed conflict that had left behind serious socio-economic consequences and affected the rights to life and freedom of association. Fifteen years had passed since the peace accords had been signed. Since then, major progress had been made, but a lot remained to be done.
Guatemala was a multicultural and multilingual country. Even though the State was built “on a rigid foundation that allowed exclusion”, there was now an awareness of the need to respect the rights of indigenous people. There were many challenges to respond to and Guatemala had responded by creating a national legal framework, which established equality as an essential value. The framework had included discrimination as a crime. The Guatemalan State recognized the special vulnerability of indigenous women and the added burden of social exclusion and extreme poverty. The gender‑coordination approach had been created to respond to the needs of indigenous women.
The Supreme Court had established the Indigenous Affairs Unit in order to ensure access to justice for the 22 First Nations of Maya origin, as well as Xinca, Garifuna and Mestizo. The Indigenous Affairs Unit had begun working in February 2012 and was intended to create coordination mechanisms that would implement cultural and gender relevance within the framework of pluralism and participatory democracy.
Turning to the right to vote, he stated that the laws of elections and political parties had undergone many amendments. Polling centres had been decentralized and access had been facilitated for all Guatemalans, including persons with disabilities. That had increased the percentage of voters, particularly in the rural and indigenous populations.
In accordance with International Labour Organization (ILO) convention 169 and with assistance from experts from the ILO committee, regulations had been established for consultation with indigenous peoples. Unfortunately, the effort made by the Government had been questioned by some social organizations. The effort would be made again by the new administration.
On the subject of violence against women, he pointed out that Guatemala had adopted a law against femicide and other forms of violence against women in 2008. In order to comply with the provisions of law, the court system had set up specialized courts in three different regions of the country and had trained public officials in the implementation of that law. Those courts had created a positive impact. In 2011, a total of 935 cases of femicide, violence against women and economic violence had been reported, and 325 judgements had been issued. In 2012, there had been a decrease in the number of violent deaths of women, with 70 cases reported in January and 45 in February. The Supreme Court had authorized two additional specialized courts to be created in two other departments, as well as a special court of appeal for femicide cases.
Further, the existing presidential commission on femicide had been strengthened, which made possible State intervention and conduct of trials and investigation. The commission worked side by side with the public prosecutor’s office to give a gender focus and ensure that the cases presented fell within the framework of the law against femicide. A multisectoral technical commission had been created to coordinate the institutions involved to ensure that actions were taken. The public prosecutor’s office had created a comprehensive model to respond to victims and to provide care based on the kind of victimization. The priority was to attenuate the impact of the crime and avoid secondary victimization.
With regard to the protection of human rights defenders, the Ministry of the Interior had created a unit to analyse patterns of attacks against them. One of the policies adopted in 2008 was the implementation of national protection mechanisms, so that defenders did not have to reply on international mechanisms.
Transitional justice was a key issue for a country that had emerged from a long conflict, he stated. In addition to the natural processes of the search for justice and criminal prosecution and punishment for those responsible for human rights violations, it was fundamental to know the truth as the basis for remedial measures such as reparations.
Guatemala was making efforts to integrate three institutions — the National Compensation Programme, the Peace Secretariat and the Presidential Commission on Human Rights. The historical archive of the national police had become a part of the general archive of Central America, in the Ministry of Culture and Sports. The number of requests for access to the archives had amounted to 4,368 in 2011, giving users the opportunity to access information on the armed conflict. Other archives that could contribute to the clarification of the truth had also been recovered, including the file of the Ministry for the Interior and the archives concerning the adoption of children of the Secretariat for Social Welfare. The Peace Secretariat had carried out research and publications arising from such files and had provided “expert contextual, historical and social work” for the public prosecutor’s investigations.
The national reparations programme had registered a total of 52,333 records of victims of the internal armed conflict, of which 24,084 victims of violations of human rights during the conflict had already received reparations.
Public security was a core issue for the full enjoyment of human rights, and the Guatemalan State was committed to creating an adequate regulatory and institutional framework to deal with that. The most prominent advances in that field included adoption of the framework law of the national system of security, police reforms that aimed at improving the professionalism of police officers and the creation of specialized teams to deal with hired killers, extortion, femicide, kidnappings, robberies and assaults. Despite the progress, Guatemala believed that there were enormous challenges ahead, including focusing on prevention rather than reaction, rebuilding the credibility of citizens towards the institutional frameworks and the creation of a modern and reliable technology platform.
The International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala had provided considerable support in the fight against impunity in the country. Public ministry statistics indicated a doubling of the number of cases brought to trial between 2010 and 2011, from 25,600 cases in 2010 with judgement resolved to 40,120 court cases between 1 January and 30 November 2011. The high levels of impunity that still prevailed in the country had resulted in a large number of lynchings. The judiciary had integrated a national commission for the prevention of lynching, involving various Government bodies and organizations. Moreover, the judicial body was promoting alternative resolution of conflicts.
Guatemalan legislation still provided for the death penalty; however, it had not been implemented since 2009, and recently, the Supreme Court of Justice had commuted all death sentences for the maximum penalty of imprisonment in the crimes of kidnapping, murder and rape, essentially declaring the validity of the judgements of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
On 31 January 2012, reforms had been approved to the law concerning the search for missing children. The aim was to improve it by establishing a special national coordinator for that purpose in the Office of the Attorney-General. The unit operations of the system would monitor the actions of search, location, protection and monitoring of disappeared children or adolescents.
Experts’ Comments and Questions
Kicking off afternoon commentary, FABIÁN OMAR SALVIOLI, expert from Argentina and Committee Vice-Chairperson, said he was generally “very satisfied” with the Government’s presentation. Guatemala had provided a great deal of information. He asked for any plans to create a body to oversee court compliance with the Covenant, beyond the information provided in the Cusanero, El Jute and García cases, cited in the report.
He also voiced deep-seeded concern about expressions used in the media by the President. Apparently, the President had said there had never been genocide or any crimes against humanity in Guatemala. Everyone had the right to freedom of expression, but “we cannot ignore the impact of a statement of the highest authority”.
On the issue of reparations, he asked if families of victims had access to full reparations. One had the feeling that reparations focused on economic compensation, based on decisions by the Inter-American Court in the Dos Erres massacre. It did not seem that the State was working with the Prosecutor’s Office in that regard. The report noted that Parliament had not satisfied some measures.
In other areas, he asked for an update on the work of the National Disappeared Commission and voiced concern at crime in Guatemala. How was security being guaranteed for citizens, and further, was there a law protecting people if their rights had been violated by private security group? Security was to be provided by the State. He requested data on the number of weapons a person could own with one license.
CHRISTINE CHANET, expert from France, was impressed by the Government’s increased awareness in tackling the problem of violence against women. The 2004‑2014 action plan covered the time in which the act against femicide had been passed. She understood that there had been 30,000 complaints, 0.2 per cent of which had led to guilty findings. The Government had different figures than non-governmental organizations. She asked how many complaints had been filed, according to the Government. Specialized courts dealt with that crime, and she asked about the gap between the number of findings versus guilty findings. “There’s still a lot of violence against women”, she said, especially indigenous women.
She also asked about the purpose of the protocol against femicide. On the abortion ban, the Government had said there was no desire to change that law. She asked how well contraception covered parts of the population that were less informed.
In other areas, she voiced concern that law 4075 — on maquiladoras— penalized pregnant women and she wondered how employment was regulated in those plants. Why had a monitoring law not been passed, and further, why had nothing been passed other than salary increase legislation?
Further, she asked if it had really been necessary to declare 14 states of emergency in the last seven years. A state of emergency could not be announced “just like that”. It was understandable there would be states of emergency due to natural catastrophe, but she understood it was being used to fight criminal activities, for which it was not intended. It appeared excessive.
WALTER KALIN, expert from Switzerland, commending the report, also had questions on issues 7, 8 and 9. On the death penalty, he wondered at what stage Guatemala was of the procedure to ratify the Second Optional Protocol. Last year, congress had tried to lift the moratorium on the death penalty. The President had vetoed those efforts, but he wondered if there was a chance the current parliament might again try to lift the moratorium. The death penalty had been lifted in 53 cases. Did that have validity beyond the cases to which it had been applied?
On the accountability of the national civil police, he asked what types of indicators and oversight measures the police force used to assess staff performance. He asked also for statistics on police brutality, including the number of cases, prosecutions and convictions. As for police reform, he wondered which reforms had been implemented. He had also noticed a tendency for the Government to provide budgetary resources to the army, rather than the civilian police. How could that be reconciled with police reform efforts?
He also asked how the Government was dealing with the large number of private security companies in the country. Indeed, there was often five to six times the number of private security guards than police officers. With such large numbers, there was a risk that violations could occur. The Government had a responsibility to protect civilians and he asked if those companies had been registered. In the same vein, he asked about local groups dealing with security issues. How were they trained or supervised? What measures were in place to ensure they were not becoming vigilantes, committing crimes and profiting from impunity?
He said some 80 per cent of the killings in Guatemala were committed with small arms. Given the high number of firearms in the population, what measures had been taken towards small arms control? He also asked if it was true that the Government was strengthening joint patrols. Those patrols had been outlined as “temporary” measures by many Guatemalan Governments, but they had existed for more than 10 years and he wondered how much longer they would last.
RAFAEL RIVAS POSADA, expert from Colombia, asked about torture, cruel or degrading treatment and combating impunity in a country such as Guatemala, which had suffered so much internal upheaval. “As we’ve seen here, the State party recognizes such situations,” he said, and had outlined its best intentions to adopt measures to guarantee stability. Such measures, however, had their limitations. Given that the creation of new military outposts opened the potential for abuse, he asked about recourse for potential victims of such military abuse, since there was no information in the report on that topic.
He asked about institutional recourse for victims of acts by private security companies. That “delicate” aspect called for particular action to prevent such abuse. A similar aspect came into play when neighbourhood security groups were spontaneously formed, or when fostered by the State. It created an opportunity for private vendettas to take place. As for lynching, he wondered about effective measures to combat that behaviour. Lynching often responded to cultural values, which called for vigorous State action to avoid an aspect of private justice that was notably “out of step” with human rights.
On the issue of torture, he said the Penal Code’s definition of torture did not fulfil the requirements under international law, particularly the Convention against Torture. Recourse must be clearly established for victims of torture or other forms of cruel and degrading treatment. Finally, he said he deplored the “somewhat excessive delay in the presentation of this third periodic report”, as the Committee had a special interest in closely following events to help normalize the human rights situation.
Responding to the questions, Mr. ROSENTHAL stated that the Commission for Disappeared Persons was moving towards a legislative agenda. Therefore, it was in the final phases, as it were. The Commission would soon become a reality.
With regard to genocide, the President had given a statement to the press and they had taken what he said out of context. He had stated it was his personal opinion at that time that, since the crime was defined in the legislation and the Supreme Court of Justice was the body that determined whether the crime of genocide had been committed, it would have to go before the courts. A number of people were being prosecuted for the crime of genocide. The Supreme Court had jurisdiction over that matter.
As for the states of emergency, he said that the declaration of emergency had always reflected what was set forth in the Covenant. Within a day after declaring a state of emergency, the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Secretary-General of the Association of American States had been informed. The rights that were suspended during the emergency were clearly stated. The state of emergency was declared for two types of situations: rapes of women taking place in a certain areas of the country and drug-trafficking activities. The Government believed that those crimes were being committed with such frequency it warranted a state of emergency.
On the issue of reparations, he said the names of the victims of “unfortunate” events in Guatemala had been given to streets. Psychological counselling had been provided to those who had requested it. “We’d prefer to give such counselling to everyone,” he said, but it was being offered in line with the Government’s ability to do so. The national reparations programme was carrying out investigations and “rethinking” how the programme would continue. It was conducting research and studying individual cases.
“Justice cannot be served if the history of what happened in Guatemala is not known,” he said. The national reparations programme was identifying individuals who, because of the conflict, had not been recognized as citizens. By way of background, he said that when the peace accords had been signed, an emergency programme to register people lacking identity documents had been put in place.
He did not believe lynching were cultural in nature. Some people had tried to manipulate that issue in the media, arguing that it was a traditional practice in indigenous communities. Lynching took place everywhere, due to the lack of trust in the administration of justice. He cited a programme to bring the courts to remote communities, in that regard. Data showed that more lynchings occurred in urban areas than in rural settings.
On the locations of military units, he said some areas had asked that military stations be located in their areas. Anyone who studied violence — in any society — recognized it could increase to “dizzying” levels. But, the Guatemalan Government had begun to stabilize that trend. Violence was starting to decrease. Neighbourhood watch groups were a source of support for the security forces under the national police. The Government did not delegate them the authority to be armed. Neighbourhood watch units were being monitored in some areas to prevent them from becoming human rights violators.
Providing further detail on femicide, ERVIN GÓMEZ, Supreme Court Judge, said the Court was extremely concerned at violence against women. Since 2006, the women and gender analysis unit had been in operation. The Supreme Court also had created specialized anti-femicide courts in three key areas of the country that required attention. Two courts — one for investigation and one for sentencing — had been established in those areas. For 2011, in the three areas, 935 reports had been made to the femicide courts. During the same period, 325 legal decisions had been taken. “We’re talking about a rate of 34.5 per cent of sentences passed,” he said. The Court had authorized the creation of four new such courts. They had operating budgets and once procedural steps had been taken, would be in full operation.
With regard to death sentences, he said that when the Supreme Court had taken responsibility for that issue, it had 52 pending death sentences before it. Out of those cases, all had been commuted to life in prison. There were no longer death sentences in Guatemala. The abolition of the death penalty, however, would take more time, as it called for an amendment to the Constitution.
As for access to justice and victim reparations, he noted that seven cases had been reopened by the criminal chamber of the Supreme Court. In the same context, he said that, last month, in cooperation with the Organization of American States (OAS), the work of legal facilitators had begun, which would allow access to justice for victims, even in remote areas. The Government was working with 51 municipalities in that context, and the head of the Supreme Court made full access to justice a priority. As for budgetary concerns, he said the budget had increased since 2009, allowing for the creation of the specialized courts.
Taking the floor next, ALBA TREJO, Presidential Commission against Femicide, said the increase in the number of complaints of violence was a good sign, in that, in the past, there had been none. “The silence has been broken,” she said, noting an average of 12,000 reports received. There was much work to do, but today, the Commission was working with the Public Prosecutor’s Office to ensure no impunity for perpetrators. In the past, many women’s deaths had not been investigated with a gender focus. Some 3,000 children had been orphaned due to femicide. To strengthen its response, the Government had allocated $2.5 million for specialized prosecutions for violence against women. Programmes for free service for victims also had their own budget.
ADELA DE TORREBIARTE, Commissioner for Police Reform, said police reform was extremely important. The National Civil Police was 15 years old and, over the years, due attention had not been paid to it, nor had proper budgetary resources been given to it. “We’re overhauling it,” she said, a process that involved experts from various sectors. To the question on vindictive acts, she said the inspector’s office, which was part of the national civil police, was responsible for oversight. Legal changes had been proposed internally and in some of the intergovernmental agreements. “We need a national police which is professional and gives results,” she said, noting that crime rates were high.
On the issue of joint patrols — which were comprised of police and military — she said those were used for highway and border patrol, as well as in the penitentiary system. The military did not determine what the police could do. As for private security companies, she said they had been under the auspices of the Ministry of the Interior, but they had not been supervised properly. Under a new organizational structure, they now fell under a Director for Oversight who had the responsibility for supervising their day-to-day running. They would be inspected. The plan was for them to be used less in the future, as the police became more efficient. They were mostly employed to protect businesses, but the Government was aware it must oversee them.
There were 665 private security firms around the country, Ms. TORREBIARTE stated. One of the most significant areas of reform was a restructuring of the police to ensure dignity for the profession. The national civil police of Guatemala lived and worked under deplorable conditions. It was impossible to ask an institution to be respected without supporting it. Guatemala was a beautiful and rich country, but there were some weaknesses to be addressed. The police were the product of an education system that was not optimal, but there was a Government commitment to reform.
Adding to the comment on reparations, Mr. ROSENTHAL stated that, in addition to economic reparations, there were different models adapted to different situations. That was contained in the public policy on damages awarded. It was necessary to comply with five measures of reparation — material restitution, economic restitution, cultural restitution, dignifying victims and psycho-social reparations. For measures one and two, there was a whole cycle of projects. Cultural reparations depended on the sector of the population. For instance, if the victim belonged to the indigenous people, a Mayan ceremony might be conducted, or a mass might be said if the victim was Catholic. The Government was also building monuments, parks were being named after victims and the names of those people were appearing in the country’s official history. “We are still not entirely sure of what happened in those 36 years,” he said, but it was necessary “to include that dark period” in the country’s memories. Accordingly, the Ministry of Education had been requested to remember that in history textbooks.
Psycho-social reparations included the act of listening to victims. Many victims did not even want to talk. Social reinsertion also came under that. All that was part of the national reparation.
Ms. TORREBIARTE added that, out of 25,500 police officers, 3,000 were women. Those police women were being professionalized and encouraged to take higher-rank positions.
Experts’ Comments and Questions
Mr. KALIN, expert from Switzerland, stated that he was encouraged by the Government’s response. Public security should not be delegated and the police needed to be strengthened. Regarding the abolition of death penalty, it seemed that there were attempts to ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the Covenant. The report stated that, according to information provided by the Treaties Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a formal procedure had been initiated to ratify the Second Optional Protocol. Was that still on the agenda of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and how far had the procedure come?
Further, regarding the local neighbourhood watches, what did it mean that they were not delegated authority by the Government to be armed? Were they armed or not? Looking at all the different elements — the police, private security firms, involvement of arms, local neighbourhood watches — it was clear that “the problem of social cleansing” was related to the problem of “who was in charge”. Lynching and killing people suspected of crime instead of having them tried were signs of that. There was also the fact that to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered (LGBT) in Guatemala was particularly dangerous. There were reports of serious cases of violence against LGBT. He asked for information about measures to reduce social cleansing and said that, regarding joint patrols and the army, he still wished to receive an answer about when their use would be ended. The Guatemalan President had stressed the temporary nature of those patrols during the visit of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Repeating her questions about abortion and contraception, Ms. CHANET, expert from France, also stated that it was clear from the response of the head of the delegation that states of emergency were being used for ordinary crimes. But, ordinary crime should not be fought with that. Emergencies were for exceptional dangers that put the very life of the nation in peril. The State needed to tackle the problem of violence against women, not by declaring emergency, but through raising awareness. Further, when a complaint was filed, the victim should not be sent back to live with the aggressor. It was necessary to have a real prevention policy.
Mr. SAVIOLI, expert from Argentina, requested more details on non-mandatory reparations in actual practice. There was psychological support for victims from non-governmental organizations, but what was the State doing? Though the Government had stated that there was progress made in initiative 3590 for adopting the bill on a national compensation programme and the Commission on the Search for Disappeared Persons, reports indicated that the Commission was not part of the legislative agenda. Could the Government confirm whether his information was correct?
With regard to lynchings, on 19 February, members of a private security force had lynched around 50 people, he stated. Not all those people had been killed, but the event could be described as a lynching. The crime had taken place because those people did not pay for security protection. What measures were being taken to bring those responsible to justice, besides the understanding that they were no longer eligible to carry out security activities? As for the special police force for femicide, would they also be working on cases of femicide of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered women, and were they trained for that purpose?
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* The 2873rd Meeting was closed.