In the midst of attempts to block justice being carried out either with regard to corruption or historical crimes, particular powers are attempting to introduce, into law, amnesty for crimes against humanity and genocide.
Jeff Abbott writes in The Progressive about this disturbing initiative.
Guatemala is on the cusp of commemorating its 200th anniversary of independence from Spain, and its twenty-fifth anniversary of the peace accords that ended the country’s thirty-six-year war. Yet the Guatemalan military and its supporters have sought to obtain a blanket amnesty for war crimes, with the far-right Valor political party presenting the latest proposed law to the Guatemalan congress in June 2021.
The proposal would modify the country’s national reconciliation law to exempt crimes against humanity. But this proposal goes against a February 2021 ruling from the country’s Constitutional Court.
“Amnesty is invalid,” Maynor Alvarado, a lawyer with the Guatemalan human rights organization Grupo de Apoyo Mutuo, tells The Progressive. “It cannot be applied to crimes against humanity.”
In 2009, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled that amnesty could not apply to cases of war crimes.
The return of the proposed amnesty for war crimes comes as a blow to families who continue to search for their loved ones, especially the Indigenous victims of the war.
You can read the full piece, including links, here, Guatemala’s Far Right Seeks Amnesty for War Crimes.
Maria Reyes writes in The Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network (BTS) about the proposed amnesty.
On June 7 in the Guatemalan Congress, the Valor party, led by Zury Rios (daughter of Rios Montt) presented Law 5920 for the consolidation of peace and reconciliation, also known as the “Amnesty Law”. This proposed law is not new. In February of this year, the Constitutional Court (CC) granted an injunction that forced Congress to shelve the previous amnesty bill, Bill 5377, created in 2019 to reform the National Reconciliation Law with a similar purpose.
The content of the new law proposes to relieve from criminal responsibility those who participated in the armed conflict from November 20, 1960 until the signing of the Peace Accords on December 29, 1996, but also aims to vacate all sentences related to the crimes of the Internal Armed Conflict, which lasted 36 years in Guatemala.
The proposed law comes a few days after the capture of 12 former military personnel linked to crimes against humanity in the case known as the Death Squad Dossier Case. In which, a document was exposed which registers the disappearance of 183 people by the security forces between 1983 and 1985; the Public Ministry, through the Human Rights Prosecutor’s Office, seeks to clarify the responsibility of military commanders of that time.
For constitutional and human rights experts, amnesty for war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and other crimes committed during the Internal Armed Conflict is clearly unconstitutional, as has already been resolved by Guatemalan law and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
Victims, survivors, and their families continue to demand justice to shed light on the acts committed during the internal armed conflict, where more than 200,000 people died and more than 45,000 disappeared. Among them, around 5,000 children. According to the report of the Historical Clarification Commission (CEH), 93% of these crimes were perpetrated by the Army.
The full piece is here, The Amnesty Law = IMPUNITY, which also contains a link to the Spanish version.
For more background, on the 2019 initiative mentioned above, GSN featured a piece by Jo-Marie Burt and Paolo Estrada, in IJ Monitor, around the special interests who favour this initiative and you can read it here, Who Benefits if the Guatemalan Congress Passes a Blanket Amnesty?