Edda Gaviola and other members of CALDH

Re: Edda Gaviola and other members of CALDH

To: Licenciado Oscar Berger Perdom, Presidente de la República de Guatemala

From: James P. Tate, Esq.

Date: 2004-07-29

LRWC has recently become aware of acts of intimidation targeting staff members of the Guatemalan organization, Centro para Accion Legal en Derechos Humanos (CALDH), and witnesses of the Plan de Sánchez massacre of July 18, 1982 . In particular, we have been informed that on July 17, 2004, one witness received a death threat and that on July 14, 2004 that the home of Ms. Edda Gaviola, director of CALDH, was twice broken into and her personal papers searched. Further, we have learned that on July 16, 2004 CALDH’s offices were broken into.

LRWC supports the work of CALDH and is concerned that these acts of intimidation have come immediately after the Inter-American Court of Human Rights has condemned the Guatemalan government for the Plan de Sanchez massacre.

LRWC is very concerned about the security of Ms. Gaviola, other staff members of CALDH and the witnesses of the Plan de Sánchez massacre who have recently been targets of threats and acts of intimidation. These last incidents form part of a pattern of intimidation.

LRWC urges the government of Guatemala to:

  • Guarantee the safety of all of the staff of CALDH and the witnesses of the Plan de Sánchez massacre, provide effective protection, and thoroughly investigate all of the break-ins and threats and bring those responsible to justice; and
  • accelerate all necessary processes for the creation of the CICIACS in order that it can begin functioning as soon as possible.

As a party to the key international human rights treaties, Guatemala has assumed important positive obligations to protect and promote human rights. Guatemala is party to the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its Optional Protocol, the American Convention on Human Rights, and the Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights in the area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, among other treaties.

Further, as a member of the international community, Guatemala ought to heed the 1998 UN Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which evidences the general acceptance of an obligation to protect those who work in the cause of human rights protection and promotion.

LRWC expects, and sincerely hopes, that Guatemala will fulfill its legal and moral obligations to protect those human rights defenders who live and work within the country’s borders.

Please advise LRWC what action the Guatemalan government is taking to investigate the threats and acts of intimidation against Ms. Gaviola, the staff of CALDH and the witnesses of the Plan de Sánchez massacre, and please further advise us of the actions the government is taking to protect and support the CALDH staff and the witnesses.

We thank you for your attention to this matter and we thank you in advance for your efforts.