San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Guatemala Probes 3,200 Human Rights Violations

GUATEMALA CITY (EFE) – Guatemala’s Attorney General for Human Rights (PDH), Sergio Morales, announced on Saturday that he is investigating no less than 3,248 cases of human rights violations that occurred during the first 10 months this year – many of them blamed on the police.


In a report on the human rights situation in the Central American country, presented on the occasion of International Human Rights Day, Morales pointed out that “once it was the army” that violated the rights of individual Guatemalans, “and now it is the National Civil Police (PNC).”


The attorney general’s investigations are limited to the 3,248 violations committed solely in the Guatemalan capital and its environs. Morales said they demonstrate “a decline in respect for human rights on the part of the government.”


The report did not specify the exact number of criminal deeds attributed to the PNC, but said “the main weight of the blame goes against the police.” Most of the charges that Morales is aware of have to do with “violation of the right to life.”


According to his statistics, between January and October of this year there were 3,851 murders, of which 459 of the victims were women, an 18% increase in violent deaths overall compared to the 3,157 slayings in the same period last year.


Morales also said that impunity has become “the rule” in the country, since the authorities never investigate 95.8% of reported acts of violence, and only 0.03% ever go to trial.


Included in the Office of the Attorney General’s probe are 707 cases of violation of economic, social and cultural rights; 56 attacks on employees of the courts, 113 on human-rights defenders, 28 on journalists, and 285 violations of the rights of seniors, women and children.


To commemorate International Human Rights Day, the Association of the Sons of the Detained and Disappeared took part in a “Caravan of Memories” that recalled the evils of the nation’s civil war.


Scores of young people set out from the headquarters of the Office of the District Attorney, heading 205 kilometers southwest of the capital to a farm in the community of Champerico, where a group of peasants are still squatting after being violently evicted from a private ranch last July.


Also present was the indigenous leader Feliciana Macario, of the Coordinating Committee of Guatemalan Widows (Conavigua), who said that those most afflicted by human rights violations are the indigenous, who account for some 60% of Guatemala’s 12 million inhabitants.


Indigenous peoples are constantly subjected to human rights violations, Macario charged, since they are victims of racism, discrimination, exclusion and isolation by the government.


Guatemalan President Oscar Berger intends to present the Public Human Rights Policy Dec. 15 in a special ceremony at the National Palace of Culture.


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