Maria Isabel Escobar Donis; Ana Morales; Maria Teresa Soto; Manuel Cedillo Cedillo; Diego Sunuc

Re: Maria Isabel Escobar Donis; Ana Morales; Maria Teresa Soto; Manuel Cedillo Cedillo; Diego Sunuc

To: Lic. Pscar Berger Perdomo, President de la Republica de Guatemala; Sr. Juan Luís Florido, Attorney General

From: Heather Neun, LL.B., B.A., M.Phil.

Date: 2004-05-08

I am writing in response to recent reports of threats and intimidation directed at the staff of the non-governmental organisation, Donde están los niños y las niñas? (Where are the children?). LWRC is gravely concerned about reports of the staff of this organization being threatened and assaulted in a pattern of escalating violence.

LWRC is concerned about the burgling of the organisation’s office over the Easter holiday (8-12 April). LWRC understands that case-files containing sensitive information about the involvement of military officials in human rights violations were stolen. LWRC is concerned about reports of various attacks on staff members in 2003 and 2004.

We understand that in mid-March, one of the staff members, María Isabel Escobar Donis, was assaulted by three armed men a few blocks from the organisation’s offices. The organisation’s car and all its contents were stolen in an incident clearly intended as an attack on the organisation itself, rather than a simple car theft.

In 2003, two staff members were assaulted as they returned from an investigation, and their bags containing tape recordings and other case information were stolen.

As a member of the Organization of American States, Guatemala is bound by the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man. As a member of the United Nations, Guatemala is bound to take effective measures to both prevent and punish violations.

We also remind the Government of its obligations to protect human rights defender under the Human Rights Defender Declaration adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 1998. Article 12 of the Declaration establishes a duty on the government of Guatemala to “take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by competent authorities of everyone … against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or other arbitrary action…”

LWRC requests that the Government of Guatemala immediately:

a. Guarantee the safety of the staff of Donde están los niños y las niñas?;

b. Launch an immediate, exhaustive and impartial investigation into reports of attacks against the staff of this organization, with the results to be made public and those responsible brought to justice;

c. Ensure that adequate security measures and resources are provided to ensure the security of the organization and all who work there.

We look forward to receiving your early reply.