Rights Action, a Washington-based Human Rights NGO, has reported that last Thursday (May 18) a Guatemalan judge ruled that Hudbay Mineral’s former head of security, Mynor Padilla, will be provided with police protection.
Padilla stands accused of murdering Adolfo Ich, a Mayan Q’eqchi’ leader, and of shooting German Chub, a Mayan community who has since been left paralysed, in 2009.
Although Padilla is currently sitting in jail, his lawyers have successfully argued that he needs a police detail. They claim Padilla’s “personal security was at risk” and that he was “harassed” when entering the Puerto Barrios courthouse in eastern Guatemala on May 17 by members of a Mining Impunity Delegation, which is being led by Rights Action and University of Northern British Columbia Geography Department (UNBC Geography).
Rights Action stated in an email alert that this supposed “harassment” of Padilla simply involved delegation members standing to one side of the courthouse building with notepads and cameras. At one point, Rights Action says that Padilla “walked calmly away from his police escorts and directly approached members of our group filming him”.
A video of Padilla entering the courthouse taken by Steven Schnoor, a member of the UNBC Geography and Rights Action Mining Impunity Delegation, shows Padilla calmly walking into the courthouse clearly free from harassment.
The judge, however, disagrees and has ordered the police to provide Padilla with 8-9 officers.
Adolfo Ich’s widow, Angelica Choc, told Rights Action:
“It makes me so angry that the judge concludes that the man who murdered my husband is the one being threatened. His lawyers come to the trial with armed private security guards all the time; the CGN company [formerly owned by Hudbay] has had other armed men who have followed us at different times during the trial; there are police everywhere, always escorting [Padilla]; and we have no weapons at all and no security guards at all, ever … and yet she determines that it is [Padilla] who needs police protection! How can I get justice?”
Between 2010 and 2011, German Chub, Angelica Choc, and 11 Mayan Q’eqchi women who were the victims of gang rape filed civil lawsuits in Canada against HudBay Minerals Inc. of Toronto. They claim that human rights abuses were carried out by HudBay’s Guatemalan subsidiaries – HMI Nickel, Skye Resources and Compañía Guatemalteca de Níquel – at the company’s nickel mine in eastern Guatemala.
The Canadian civil lawsuit is still underway, but last year in Guatemala, much to the relief of the victims and their families, Padilla’s trial finally commenced. However, as these recent events demonstrates, victims and their families remain skeptical that justice can be achieved in Guatemala’s current political and social climate.
“This judicial order would be amusing, if it were not indicative of how corrupted, manipulated and racist the entire trial has been, a trial which – in many ways – is characteristic of much of Guatemala’s legal system and the application of the rule of law,” Rights Actions said.
For more information and updates about the UNBC Geography and Rights Action Delegation, visit: www.facebook.com/UNBCRightsActionGuate2016
For information about the HudBay trial in Canada visit: www.chocversushudbay.com
For more information about the work Rights Actions does in Guatemala see: www.rightsaction.org.