The European Parliament in Strasbourg has approved an urgent resolution on the situation of human rights defenders in Guatemala. Deputies expressed their concerns and acknowledged the work carried out by human rights defenders, urging the Guatemalan government to adopt measures aimed at protecting HRDs from assaults and dangers they are confronting regularly.
The figures are alarming. Parliamentarians recalled that between January and November 2016, 223 assaults were registered against Human Rights Defenders s as well as 14 killings and 7 attempted murders. Since the beginning of the year, 2 Human Rights Defenders were killed in Guatemala. The majority of these crimes were the final act of a long and repetitive cycle of violence.
The EP also underlined the hostile environment in which justice officials have to work. They face harassment, criminalization, coercion, discredit and intimidation campaigns, which undermine the independence of the judiciary system in the country.
The resolution also supports the new justice reform initiative, which has been presented recently in the Guatemalan Congress. It aims at undertaking legal reforms to strengthen the Rule of Law in the country.
According to Beatriz Becerra, vice-chair of the Subcommittee on Human Rights of the European Parliament and member of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), “human rights defenders are the most powerful asset in the achievement of a more independent justice, however, they are defamed, harassed and ultimately assassinated. For these reasons the Guatemalan government have to protect them with ambitious public policies”.
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