Guatemala: Human Rights Defenders at Risk | Letter

To:  Claudia Paz y Paz Bailey, Fiscal General de la República de Guatemala, Ministerio Público; Mauricio López Bonilla, Ministro de Gobernación

From: Naveen Mehta, General Counsel & Director of Human Rights, Equity, and Diversity, UFCW Canada

Re: Guatemala – Human Rights Defenders at Risk

Date: April 16, 2013

I am writing on behalf of the 250,000 members of UFCW Canada, the country’s largest private-sector union,and Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, a committee of lawyers dedicated to promoting the rule of law and human rights internationally, to express our concern for the safety of Omar Jerónimo and Damaso Aldana, members of the New Day Peasant Farmer Coordination (Coordinación Campesina Nuevo Día) who received information that threats were made against them. They fear for their safety following the killing of Carlos Hernandez.

Carlos Hernandez was a leading member of several civil society organizations, including Camotán Peasant Farmers Association (Asociación Campesina Camoteca), Coordinación Campesina Nuevo Día, and Coordination of Popular, Indigenous, Church, Trade Union and Peasant Organizations of the East (Coordinadora de Organizaciones Populares, Indígenas, Iglesias, Sindicales y Campesinas de Oriente,COPISCO). He was also on the executive committee of the National Trade Union of Health Workers (Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Salud de Guatemala – SNTSG), and the National Front for the Struggle (Frente Nacional de Lucha – FNL).

We call upon your government to provide protection for the members of Coordinación Campesina Nuevo Día who have been threatened, and to order an independent, thorough and impartial investigation into the killing of Carlos Hernández, with the results made public and those responsible brought to justice.

Human rights defenders, including trade union leaders, have the right to carry out their activities without any restrictions or fear of reprisals, as set out in the UN Declaration on the Rights and Responsibilities of Individuals, Groups and Institutions to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the American Convention on Human Rights (ACHR).

Guatemala became a party to the ACHR in 1978 and to the ICCPR in 1992.

Your immediate intervention will not only save the lives of those being threatened but will also demonstrate that your government complies with its legal obligation to protect internationally protected rights and to prevent and punish violations.