New obstruction to historical justice in Guatemala

Mike Phipps writes in Labour Hub about the challenges being faced in the search for justice in the Death Squad Diary (Diario Militar) case. The presiding judge has stated that the defendants have a case to answer but the Attorney General, Consuelo Porras, again seeks to undermine justice and promote impunity, this time by transferring Hilda Pineda, the prosecutor leading the Human Rights Office of the Public Ministry.

The piece also links to the discovery of the National Police Historical Archive and the fight for justice carried out by Ana Lucía Cuevas in response to her brother’s disappearance at the hands of the Guatemalan state.

In May 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.

The charges relate to crimes committed against 183 people that appear in the military intelligence document known as the Death Squad Diary. The Human Rights Prosecutor’s Office accused them of forced disappearance, torture, sexual violence, murder, and crimes against humanity. The 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 who were forcibly disappeared between August 1983 and March 1985. 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.

More than 100 academics from the US, Canada and Latin America expressed their solidarity with the victims and their support for the judicial officials involved in the case, calling for an trial free of interference.

In September, the presiding judge in the Death Squad Diary case stated that the defendants had a case to answer – good news for the search for justice in Guatemala which is coming under increasing strain.

You can read the full piece, with links here, New obstruction to historical justice in Guatemala.

The piece was subsequently featured by the Latin America Bureau, here, New obstruction to historical justice in Guatemala (LAB).

Categories: Corruption, Criminalisation, Genocide, Guatemala, Human Rights, Impunity, Indigenous peoples, Justice, Military, Solidarity in Action, Violence

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