As we reported on 7 January the state of Guatemala was found to have so obstructed the progress of the case against those accused of the Dos Erres massacre that it constituted a denial of the right to justice. Following this verdict from the Interamerican Court of Human Rights the Guatemalan Supreme Court also spoke on 8 February. It has ordered that the case should continue its course through the courts, and that the arrest warrants for the 17 accused be followed
up. On 12 February news came through of two arrests of former kaibiles who are accused.
This case has been held back at every turn by the use of amparos, which are a sort of injunction requiring some point of law to be clarified, often up to the Constitutional Court. The net effect is to bog the process down in a litigious mud of the consistency familiar to those of us who are unfortunate to have got stuck on a road in the Peten in the rainy season. By the time of the Interamerican Court decision a record 40 amparos were pending.
FAMDEGUA, the Association of the Families of the Detained and Disappeared in Guatemala, has been closely associated with this case for years. They promoted the exhumation of the site and brought the case in the Interamerican Court. In a statement from FAMDEGUA and other organisations, attached (only in Spanish at the moment – English shortly), the organisation welcomes the Supreme Courts action and demands that the various organs of the state now fulfil their duties to the victims by capturing the accused and letting the case proceed.
FAMDEGUA has now waited 27 years for justice – and their long wait has not been without risk to themselves, as their office was attackedin broad daylight in 2000 by several armed men. Let’s hope that at last we have reached the beginning of the end and not just more endless beginning.