News came through, the other day, of yet more egregious dismantling of the Guatemala judiciary in favour of promoting impunity for crimes against humanity. AP announced that:
Guatemala’s attorney general has transferred the prosecutor leading the office that took former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt and other former military officers to trial for crimes against humanity.
Attorney General Consuelo Porras moved Hilda Pineda to a new office pursuing crimes against tourists. Pineda confirmed Monday that she was transferred.
You can read the full AP release here, Guatemala transfers prosecutor who pursued former dictator.
Providing a little background to the valuable contribution of Hilda Pineda to human rights in Guatemala, Dr. Jo-Marie Burt, a long-time advocate for justice and human rights in Guatemala, tweeted this thread, with the above image:
More bad news from #Guatemala. Attorney General Consuelo Porras is transferring Hilda Pineda, who has successfully led the Human Rights Prosecutor’s Office of the @Mpguatemala for several years, bringing complex war-time cases to trial, to another unit.
I met Pineda in 2012 when she was an assistant prosecutor working on the Maya Ixil genocide case against former dictator of Guatemala, Efraín Ríos Montt, under then Attorney General @ClaudiaPazyPaz.
She was young and bright, and quickly ascended to become the head of the unit investigating conflict-era cases. She prosecuted the landmark Sepur Zarco sexual violence, winning a conviction against two military officials for heinous crimes against K’ekqhi women during the war.
Soon thereafter she became head of the Human Rights Prosecutor’s Office, which oversees different units investigating different types of human rights abuses – conflict-era cases but also current violations of the rights of journalists, human rights defenders, trade unionists, etc
She brought new, complex cases to trial, including the Molina Theissen case. In 2018 her office won a conviction against four senior military officials for crimes against humanity, aggravated sexual assault, and the forced disappearance of 14-yr old Marco Antonio Molina Theissen.
Other important cases also advanced under her leadership, including the Maya Ixil genocide case during the Lucas Garcia regime (1978-82) and the Maya Achi sexual violence case.
Most recent was the Military Diary, or Death Squad Dossier, case. In May 12 senior military officials were arrested. A judge ruled that 11 should face the next stage of judicial proceedings. A recusal motion filed by the defense was rejected, giving the greet light to the case.
For a long time those who follow war crimes prosecutions in #Guatemala have feared the dismantling of the Human Rights Prosecutions Office. With this action by Consuelo Porras against Hilda Pineda it seems that this is now underway- a very bad sign for the future of justice there
It is extremely disturbing that a long list of honest, independent judges and prosecutors from #Guatemala have been forced out of their jobs—and many into exile—because of the greed and corruption of the old guard military and their empresario enablers. Now under Biden’s watch.
On a personal note, Hilda Pineda always impressed me with the seriousness with which she took her work and her sensitivity in working with victims of atrocious war crimes. This is not always what one sees when engaging with government prosecutors. She is truly exceptional.
The tweet is available here, @JoMaBurt tweet.
This is another example of the Guatemala state attacking members of the judiciary who refuse to support, or bow down to, supporters of corruption and impunity. One might expect nothing more from some members of Congress, or from the military, especially veterans and their supporters. One might have hoped for a President who, at least, gave the pretence of supporting an independent judiciary but that hope was misplaced. All of this to support, and provide cover for, the business elites in Guatemala to continue to rob the country of its resources and of its citizens’ future.
Hilda Pineda joins an increasing list of independent members of the Guatemala judiciary who have fallen foul of corrupt interests including Pablo Xitumul, Gloria Porras, Erika Aifán, Juan Francisco Sandoval, Thelma Aldana, and Claudia Paz y Paz. Let’s not forget the prosecutorial staff of CICIG and FECI who have also been targeted.