Jose Israel Lopez Lopez

Re: Jose Israel Lopez Lopez, Auxiliar (Regional Rep.) Oficina Regional de Chimaltenango de la Procuraduria de Derechos Humanos (PDH) Thelma de Lam, Special Prosecutor for Defenders of Human Rights Marines Martinez, Assistant Prosecutor

To: Alfonso Portillo Cabrera, President of the Republic of Guatemala

From: Gail Davidson of LRWC

Date: 2003-07-15

LRWC energetically repudiates the murder of Jose Israel Lopez, well known lawyer and Regional Representative of the PDH, an organization which is extremely important for the defence of human rights in Guatemala. LRWC is also very concerned for the safety of other members of the PDH, who have been targets of threats and intimidations during the last two years.

It is of major concern that this attack against the PDH is occurring at a time when the Commission for the Investigation of Illegal groups and Clandestine Security Apparatus (CICIACS) is in a waiting stage (has not begun).

It is also of concern that it takes place in the framework of a campaign by government officials and people close to them to hold the PDH and other human rights organizations responsible for the lack of compensation payments to the Civil Defence Patrols (PAC).

LRWC is also very concerned for the safety of Thelma de Lam and Marines Martinez, both with the Special Prosecutor’s office for Defenders of Human Rights. According to our information, Thelma de Lam and Marines Martinez have received threats and acts of intimidation as a result of their investigations in the course of carrying out their work. These last incidents form part of a pattern of intimidation against Prosecutors of human rights. Tatiana Morales Valdizon, former Special Prosecutor for the Defenders of Human Rights, was also threatened in the course of her work.

It is obvious that the PDH and the Prosecutor’s office cannot carry out their valiant work if their personnel are threatened and intimidated, and if they do not have the political support and necessary resources.

The U.N. Declaration of Human Rights and other U.N. Declarations, including the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, the guides on the Role of Prosecutors, the Basic Principles of the independence of the Justice System, and the Declaration on Defenders of Human rights, confirm that a significant recognition of human rights has as its basis that the signatory nations firmly guarantee that lawyers, judges and other justice workers have the security to act with independence.

LRWC urges the Government of Guatemala to:

  • Guarantee the safety of all personnel of the PDH and the Prosecutor’s office, giving them effective protection, and investigating in depth all attacks and threats against them. In particular, LRWC urges the Government of Guatemala to investigate in depth the murder of Jose Israel Lopez and the threats against Thelma de Lam and Marines Martinez, bringing to justice those responsible.
  • Cease defamatory campaigns against the work of human rights defence and initiate a campaign of giving dignity and support to the activities of human rights defenders.
  • Accelerate all the necessary procedures for the creation of the CICIACS so that it can initiate its functions as soon as possible.
  • We have written to you various times, expressing our concern for the security of various justice workers and human rights defenders in Guatemala. To date, we have received no response.

Please advise LRWC what actions the government of Guatemala is taking to investigate the murder of Jose Israel Lopez and the threats against Thelma de Lam and Marines Martinez. As well, please advise us what actions the government will take to protect and support the personnel of the PDH and the Prosecutor’s office in their work that is so valiant and necessary to establish a state in accordance with the law in Guatemala.

We thank you for your kind attention , and continue to be your sincere and willing servants.