A few days ago, Impunity Watch released a press statement regarding the arrests of eleven former members of the military on charges of crimes against humanity.
On May 27, 2021, the human rights unit of the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the National Civil Police in Guatemala unexpectedly arrested 11 former members of the military charged with forced disappearance and crimes against humanity committed against 183 people that appear in the military intelligence document known as the Death Squad Diary. The Human Rights Prosecutor’s Office has accused them of forced disappearance, torture, sexual violence, murder, and crimes against humanity. The recent arrests offer important hope to the families of the victims who over the years have never stopped searching for the remains of their loved ones.
The Death Squad Diary or “dossier of death” is a military intelligence document first revealed to the public in 1999 through investigative journalism work. The document includes the names of 183 people – 24 women and 159 men – who were forcibly disappeared between August 1983 and March 1985. First published in May of 1999 by Harper Magazine, the document demonstrates the systematic way that forced disappearances were carried out during the internal armed conflict in Guatemala and points to the responsibility of the state in the commission of these heinous crimes. As such, this case has symbolic meaning for all victims of Guatemala’s internal armed conflict and has the potential to make an important contribution to justice in the country.
You can read the full summary here, Eleven Former Members of the Military Arrested for Crimes against Humanity in the Death Squad Diary Case which includes links to the full press release in both English and Spanish.
For more information on the Death Squad Diaries themselves, you can go to the website of the National Security Archive, here, Guatemalan Death Squad Dossier, which also includes a link to a, 1999, two-page excerpt from Harper’s Magazine, as well as links to view pages from the dossier.
Jo-Marie Burt noted that “More than 100 academics from the US, Canada & Latin America express their solidarity with the victims of the #CasoDiarioMilitar, their support for the judicial officials involved in the case, and demands for an impartial trial free of interference”. You can see the letter of solidarity, in Spanish, here, Guatemala: Académicos Exigimos Justicia Para El Caso Diario Militar.
Also, PBI-Guatemala noted that it had “accompanied the Human Rights Law Firm (BDH) today as 11 ex-military and police officers went on trial for the disappearance and murder of 183 people in 1983-85 including students, professors and trade unionists”. You can read more on this on the PBI Canada website, here, PBI-Guatemala accompanies law firm at hearing for 11 ex-military and police officers accused of crimes against humanity.