‘We demand the investigation and criminal punishment for the human rights’ violations committed on 21st November 2020’

UDEFEGUA recently released a demand for justice against those responsible for the acts of violence carried out against peaceful demonstrators on the 21st November 2020.

Any errors in translation are mine.

The Protection Unit for Human Rights Defenders in Guatemala (La Unidad de Protección a Defensoras y Defensores de Derechos Humanos de Guatemala -UDEFEGUA) has, today, lodged a formal complaint against those persons responsible, by action or omission, of an apparent strategy of suppressing the rights to protest and demonstrate, as well as the promotion of the freedom of expression, at least in the Departments of Guatemala and Quetzaltenango, on the 21st November 2020.

UDEFEGUA observed, on the 21st November 2020, the peaceful demonstration that took place in the Plaza de la Constitución and monitored the acts of violence committed by individuals and by the security forces in various cities in the country. The inappropriate use of force led to serious injuries against two people who were exercising their rights, as well as a range of injuries against demonstrators and journalists. Additionally, it has accompanied people detained arbitrarily and illegally in Guatemala and Quetzaltenango, noting a pattern in the illegal conduct of the security forces in the detention and management of those detained, as well as in their processing. In various cases, we observed the use of harmful treatment, including torture, during the detention, and the conduct towards the demonstrators and passers-by.

After evaluating the statements before the judge of the detainees, the testimonies of several of the victims of the abuse of the use of force and torture, the media records and the analysis of the conduct of the people, we have identified that the Policía Nacional Civil [National Police – PNC] carried out systematic acts of aggression against the protesting population, carried out over a period of at least five hours, using as an excuse a pursuit in relation to flagrant acts committed at 2.20pm that day.

For this reason, we denounce, for the commission, by act or omission, of the following crimes, noted in the Penal Code: torture (article 201), abuse of authority (article 418), abuse against individuals (article 425), and accusation and false reporting (article 453 ), the following authorities and those police officers who were also identified within the framework of the investigations:

  • Gendri Reyes Mazariegos – Interior Minister
  • Carlos Enrique Franco Urzua, I Viceminister of Security
  • José Antonio Tzuban Gómez, Director General of the PNC
  • Edwin Ardiano, Deputy General Manager (DGA)
  • Erick Tortola, Deputy Director General for Operations (SGO)
  • Esvin Gaspar Jacinto Quiché, Chief of Police Special Forces Division (FEP)
  • Byron Aguilar Loayes, Police Commissioner of Quetzaltenango

The complaint is presented with the express request that they conduct 27 investigations and that we be taken on as part of the investigation process that is carried out on the facts. Given that the events we denounce, taken together, define, as criminalisation, the expression of the violation of the right to defend rights; We ask the Attorney General to assign the Human Rights Prosecutor’s Office as being responsible for the investigations of this complaint, as it is the specialised body for the investigation and criminal prosecution of the commission of human rights violations by public officials.

¡Por el Derecho de Defender Derechos! – [‘For the Right to Defend Rights!’]

Guatemala, 6th January 2021

The original, in Spanish, can be found here on the UDEFEGUA website.

Categories: Corruption, Criminalisation, Guatemala, Human Rights, Indigenous peoples, Justice, Legal, Violence

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