Guatemala intensifying crackdown on human rights defenders, group warns
A Guatemalan human rights group is warning that the country's government has intensified its crackdown on rights defenders, journalists and judicial workers.
Driving the news: The group, Udefegua, has documented more than 560 attacks, including police brutality and “spurious” and “unfounded” criminal cases.
- The organization has recorded more than 2,645 such attacks since January 2020, when President Alejandro Giammattei took office.
- The group documented 1,642 attacks during the entire four-year term of Giammattei's predecessor, Jimmy Morales.
The big picture: The U.S. has added key members of Giammattei's government, including Attorney General Consuelo Porras, to its list of "corrupt and undemocratic actors."
- The U.S. and rights groups have accused Porras and other officials of obstructing justice, including in anti-corruption investigations. At least 15 judges and district attorneys have gone into exile in the last year after facing threats or attempted imprisonment for their anti-corruption cases against business people and officials.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres expressed concerns earlier this year over those judges’ situations.
- Guterres added to those concerns this month when El Periódico's José Rubén Zamora, publisher of a newspaper that has run several stories uncovering government corruption, was arrested on charges of money laundering. Zamora denies any wrongdoing.
- Udefegua also highlighted cases of harassment against Indigenous women and student activists by police forces.
What they’re saying: “I thought that we had hit bottom with Jimmy Morales, but no,” Jordán Rodas, the outgoing Guatemalan human rights ombudsman, told AP in mid-August. Giammattei is behaving “like an emperor," Rodas added.