Guatemala: The Violence Against CODECA Should Cease

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (OMCT-FIDH) and UDEFEGUA released a denunciation following the assassination of Ramón López Jiménez, a community leader with CODECA – ‘Committee for Campesino Development’ (El Comité de Desarrollo Campesino)

With the murder of Ramón López Jiménez, 21 members of CODECA have been assassinated since 2018, a figure representative of the systematic violence against those who defend land and territory in Guatemala. It is urgent to put an end to impunity in all these cases and to implement the public policy for the protection of human rights defenders, said both organisations.

Ramón López Jiménez, territorial defender and departmental leader of the Committee for Campesino Development (CODECA) in the community of Corral Viejo, municipality of Santa María Xalapán, in the department of Jalapa, was assassinated on 20 September 2021 by unknown persons. His body was found near a stream in the community Volcán La Paz, Santa María Xalapán, Jalapa, with multiple gunshot wounds and stab wounds. The Jalapa District Prosecutor’s Office together with the Human Rights Prosecutor’s Office have opened an investigation. Ramón López Jiménez had received threats in the past. In 2020, unidentified persons fired gunshots at his home. Despite this, the Guatemalan authorities did not take any protective measures or prevent further attacks.

The murder of Ramón López Jiménez is part of a pattern of systematic repression against CODECA members in retaliation for their legitimate defence of human rights and territory. Since 2018, at least 21 CODECA members have been killed, including Emilio Aguilar Jiménez on 15 April 2021.

Impunity in all the cases is absolute and helps perpetuate attacks against them. In response, the violence against CODECA members testifies to the helplessness of those who defend human rights in rural areas of Guatemala, where land conflicts and the negligence of the authorities in their resolution lead to armed attacks, assassinations, death threats and harassment against human rights defenders.

Furthermore, the lack of creation and implementation of a Public Policy for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, seven years after the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruling requiring Guatemala to adopt it, as well as the dismantling of democratic and human rights institutions under the presidency of Alejandro Giammattei, place human rights defenders in a situation of vulnerability and at high risk of attacks and criminalisation.

The Observatory and UDEFEGUA strongly condemn the assassination of Ramón López Jiménez and reiterate their grave concern about the evident lack of guarantees for the defence of human rights in Guatemala and the violation of the rights of campesino and indigenous organisations that peacefully and legitimately defend their rights in the country.

The Observatory and UDEFEGUA urge the Guatemalan authorities to carry out an effective, impartial and independent investigation into the murder of Ramón López Jiménez, and the systematic persecution of CODECA, in order to put an end to the impunity surrounding the violence against them. Both organisations reiterate their call to the authorities to take the necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of all members of CODECA and all human rights defenders in Guatemala.

Geneva-Paris-Guatemala City, 28 September 2021

You can read the full piece, in Spanish, with links, here, Guatemala: The Violence Against CODECA Should Cease.

Categories: Accompaniment, Corruption, Criminalisation, Environment, Genocide, Guatemala, Human Rights, Impunity, Indigenous peoples, Justice, Land, Legal, Military, Resource Extraction, Solidarity in Action, Solidarity in Action/Guatemala, Violence

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