Tag Archives: Guatemala

Lawyer for jailed Guatemalan news director is arrested


Guatemalan authorities arrested a lawyer representing the jailed director of an investigative newspaper Thursday and pursued a second lawyer for alleged obstruction of justice.

José Rubén Zamora of El Periodico was ordered to stand trial on money laundering charges in December related to a 2013 donation to his newspaper that he asked a friend to deposit to hide the donor’s identity.

Zamora and his paper had aggressively pursued stories of wrongdoing and corruption in the current administration of President Alejando Giammattei. El Periodico stopped publishing a print addition Nov. 30 due to its financial difficulties.

Anti-corruption prosecutor Rafael Curruchiche said in video statement that Zamora’s lawyers had conspired to obstruct the investigation. Mario Castañeda was arrested and authorities were seeking the arrest of Romeo Montoya.

Free press organizations have decried the pursuit of Zamora as an attempt to silence a critical voice in the media. Currucchiche was sanctioned by the U.S. government last year for allegedly obstructing corruption investigations.

The United States and international human rights groups have been critical of the deterioration of judicial independence in Guatemala. More than 30 judges, prosecutors and other members of the legal system have fled into exile to avoid prosecutions.







Anti-corruption prosecutor in Guatemala given 4-year jail term


A Guatemalan court on Friday handed down a four-year jail term to a senior anti-corruption prosecutor in what critics assailed as a blatant effort to undermine a fight against corruption.

The sentence against Virginia Laparra, who has been imprisoned for 10 months already, was announced by Judge Oly Gonzalez after an unusually speedy 18-day trial that was largely confined to testimony from police, government functionaries and a judge once investigated for corruption.

Gonzalez said Laparra was convicted for “abuse of authority” and given a commutable term of four years, which, under Guatemalan law, means she could pay a fine and see her term reduced.

Laparra wept as she heard the sentence.

“This is a legal aberration and a terrible precedent,” she said.

Amnesty International lambasted the conviction as a travesty.

“This conviction is yet another example of the criminalization of justice workers in Guatemala,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas director for Amnesty International. “Virginia Laparra is a prisoner of conscience who is paying a high price for conducting her work as an anti-corruption prosecutor.

‘Vengeance’ campaign

At the end of her hearing, Laparra was ushered away in handcuffs, escorted by two guards. Some 50 supporters shouted, “Virginia is innocent!” and “Down with the corrupt!”

In brief remarks to journalists, Laparra said “no prosecutor evermore will dare present a case.”

US State Department assistant secretary for the western hemisphere Brian Nichols this week tweeted that the US government is “deeply concerned” about Laparra’s prosecution. In a separate tweet, the department said Guatemala’s campaign against Laparra “for doing her job undermines the fight against corruption and impunity.”

A day earlier, Laparra asserted as the trial wrapped up that the charges against her were part of a “vengeance” campaign by right-wing forces intent on protecting corruption rackets and military officers blamed for crimes during the 1960-1996 civil war.

Laparra was the chief of the Quetzaltenango region of the Special Prosecutor’s Office against Impunity when she was arrested as part of apparent payback for her anti-corruption efforts.



https://www.dw.com/es/guatemala-condena-a-virginia-laparra-por-abuso-de-autoridad/a-64130976 (ESPANOL)


https://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2022/12/17/une-ex-procureure-anticorruption-condamnee-a-quatre-ans-de-prison-au-guatemala_6154891_3210.html (FRANCAIS)


OIAD: Observatory reaffirms its commitment to lawyers at risk at General Assembly in Rome, 20 May 2022


After two years of working at a distance, on 20 May 2022 the International Observatory for Lawyers at Risk finally convened in Rome for its annual General Assembly. Members of the Observatory were able to participate in person or online in the meeting as well as in an open conference organised the day before to make the work of the IADO more visible.  

Conference on the role of lawyers in building the rule of law 

On Thursday 19 May, the conference on the role of lawyers in the construction of the rule of law was held. Maria Masi, President of the Consiglio Nationale Forense, welcomed the participants and praised the work of the Observatory. Francesco Caia, President of the International Observatory for Lawyers in Danger, introduced the conference by stating that The best way to exert effective pressure on governments and authorities is to multiply debates and meetings, involving citizens; to publicise the facts and circumstances that lead to the erosion of the rule of law in many countries of the world, telling the stories, the intimidation, the unjust arrests, the arbitrary convictions and, unfortunately, in the most serious cases, the violence and murders of lawyers.  

David Ermini, vice-president of the Italian Superior Council of the Magistracy, underlined the existence of serious violations of the independence of justice and the freedom of lawyers. These occur not only in dictatorships but also in states like Hungary and Poland where the government does not respect the separation of powers. This is why rights and freedoms can never be taken for granted, even where democracy is strongest, and these values must always be defended. 

Once again, Mr. Diego García Sayán, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, has honoured us by sharing a few words with us via video, pointing out that “there is currently in all regions of the world a persistent attitude aimed at hindering the exercise of the legal profession in various ways, which is a way of affecting the functioning of the judicial system and the rule of law”.  The rapporteur will present his report on “Protection of lawyers against undue interference in the free and independent exercise of their profession” at the fifth session of the Human Rights Council from 13 June to 8 July.  

Two lawyers shared their testimony on the essential work of the institutions in protecting threatened lawyers.



USA: Statement Condemning the Continuing Harassment and Criminalization of Justice Operators in Guatemala


The New York City Bar Association (City Bar) is gravely concerned by the Republic of Guatemala’s continued criminal harassment of lawyers, judges, prosecutors, and former prosecutors who have handled corruption cases. On February 8, 2022, the City Bar called on the Guatemalan Government to take action to protect Judge Erika Aifan from harassment and to ensure that any disciplinary action taken against her and other judges of the High Risk Court who handle corruption cases be properly administered and accorded all the protections of due process.[1] Unfortunately, the harassment and arrests have escalated, threatening judicial independence and the rule of law in Guatemala.


As integral components of the country’s justice system, the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the Supreme Court of Justice, and the Constitutional Court are required to abide by the Constitution of the Republic of Guatemala and other laws, ensuring respect for the rule of law.[2] However, in the past few weeks multiple credible media sources have reported that, far from complying with their legal mandate, these institutions persist in actively persecuting, imprisoning, and criminalizing Guatemalan judges, prosecutors, and lawyers solely for fulfilling their professional obligations in pursuing cases against corruption.[3]

These acts by the Guatemalan authorities violate due process principles, including the right to a public hearing, by initiating criminal prosecutions under seal based on allegations made by attorneys who are defending those indicted in corruption cases. As the prosecutions are conducted under seal, the investigations are not made public and the corresponding hearings are often postponed, prolonging the preliminary detention of the accused.


Some of the distressing cases include that of Siomara Sosa, former prosecutor of the FECI (Guatemala’s Special Prosecution Division combating impunity) and defense attorney, Leily Santizo, former member of the CICIG (the now defunct United Nations supported International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala). They were arrested and placed in preliminary detention after the Public Prosecutor’s Office charged them with alleged conspiracy and obstruction of justice crimes.[4] Both lawyers had been involved in high-profile landmark corruption cases that resulted in the imprisonment of multiple politicians, businessmen and drug traffickers.[5]





http://documents.nycbar.org/files/Guatemala_Statement_5.23.22_Espa%C3%B1ol.pdf (ESPANOL)


Guatemala arrests outspoken opponent


Guatemala’s national police arrested an outspoken opponent of the government Wednesday on charges he falsified documents to form a political party.

Juan Francisco Solorzano Foppa is a lawyer who once served as head of the country’s tax collection agency. In recent years, he has criticized the administration of President Alejandro Giammattei and slammed what he claimed was the political use of law enforcement.

Prosecutors said he was arrested for criminal conspiracy and falsification.

Solorzano Foppa said the charges had been “invented,” and suggested they were retaliation for his criticisms. Guatemala’s legal system and congress have been criticized for protecting those accused of corruption.

“This is not any shame for me. I am proud, knowing that we are doing things right; we are affecting powerful people in the country,” Solorzano Foppa said in a video, in which he showed his handcuffs.

He also shared a video of the moment of his arrest, when his vehicle was cut off by two unmarked cars without license plates. A government official said police sometimes use their private vehicles to make arrests, and that they don’t carry license plates for security reasons.

Arrest warrants have also been issued for 14 other people.

Anibal Argüello, a lawyer who once worked for Guatemala’s now-defunct U.N.-backed anti-corruption commission, was also arrested.

“This is just the networks of power who we have been fighting for so many years, attacking us,” Anibal Argüello said.

Previously, the government arrested another crusading anti-corruption lawyer, Alfonso Carrillo.




https://www.swissinfo.ch/spa/guatemala-corrupci%C3%B3n_partido-denuncia–represi%C3%B3n–en-guatemala-tras-detenci%C3%B3n-de-abogado-opositor/46633086 (ESPANOL)





Image result for Quelvin Jiménez

Quelvin Jiménez ha recibido amenazas de muerte y sigue siendo objeto de campañas difamatorias, intimidación y vigilancia a causa de sus actividades en defensa de los derechos del pueblo xinca a la tierra y el territorio en el contexto de las actividades mineras en el sur de Guatemala. Las amenazas más recientes incluyen llamadas telefónicas, la presencia de hombres armados cerca de su casa y un intento de intimidación cuando se dirigía a su domicilio el 6 de mayo. Instamos al Ministerio Público a llevar a cabo investigaciones sobre todos los ataques y a brindar protección a Quelvin Jiménez

Actúen: redacten su propio llamamiento o utilicen esta carta modelo

Consuelo Porras

Fiscal General de Guatemala

Correo-e: carrecis@mp.gob.gt (secretaría de la sra. Porras)

Twitter: @MPguatemala


Señora Fiscal General:

Me dirijo a usted para expresarle mi alarma y mi preocupación por la seguridad del abogado del pueblo xinca Quelvin Jiménez, quien fue alertado de un plan para matarlo a finales de abril y cuya casa estaba siendo vigilada. El 6 de mayo, el mismo hombre al que se había visto cerca de su casa persiguió a Quelvin en una motocicleta e intentó que el vehículo del abogado redujera la velocidad. Quelvin ha recibido amenazas de muerte telefónicas en varias ocasiones. Las investigaciones sobre los ataques anteriores continúan pendientes, y la policía aún no ha aplicado las medidas de seguridad ordenadas por el Ministerio Público para brindarle protección.

La instamos a llevar a cabo una investigación inmediata, independiente, efectiva e imparcial sobre todas las amenazas y los ataques contra Quelvin Jiménez, y a llevar a todos los responsables de estos hechos ante la justicia. También le pedimos que garantice que se le asigna protección policial, de acuerdo con sus deseos y necesidades.



“Ante la extensa actividad extractiva, la lucha de las comunidades sigue en pie»: concluye Foro Permanente para Cuestiones Indígenas

Representantes indígenas hablan sobre el extractivismo durante foro de la ONU

https://www.amnestyusa.org/urgent-actions/urgent-action-lawyer-of-xinca-people-under-threat-guatemala-ua-63-19/ (ENGLISH)

https://nisgua.org/portfolio-items/active-quelvin-jimenez-xinka-parliament/ (ENGLISH)

https://eu.rgj.com/story/opinion/voices/2018/05/22/guatemalan-locals-risk-repression-reno-mining-corp-jimenez/633754002/ (ENGLISH)

http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/2019/05/when-pan-american-silver-bought-escobal-mine-it-bought-legacy-violence (ENGLISH)

Switzerland: The ICJ and Geneva Bar Association launch ambitious global project

May 20, 2019

Image result for ICJ-Geneva Lawyers International Cooperation Initiative

The ICJ, the Geneva Bar Association and the Geneva legal community have joined forces to launch the ICJ-Geneva Lawyers International Cooperation Initiative. Under the Initiative, Geneva lawyers will join ICJ missions on the five continents to support the independence and integrity of lawyers and judges at risk, and to promote the Rule of Law.

The Initiative launches with a mission tomorrow, May 21st. A lawyer from the Geneva Bar Association will go to Guatemala to work the ICJ team and lawyers investigating and fighting the forced displacement of the indigenous community of La Laguna de El Petén.

Missions under the initiative will typically involve, among other things:

– Trial observations;

– Fact-finding missions;

– Support for the independence of lawyers and bar associations;

– Capacity building and training activities;

– Expertise and academic support.

Since its founding in 1952, the ICJ has played a unique and preeminent role as a non-governmental organization for the defense of the Rule of Law around the world, and the independence of judges and lawyers.

With the presence of its headquarters in Geneva for more than 60 years, through the Initiative the ICJ is further deepening its special bond with the city, to spread and share the spirit of Geneva.

“International support and solidarity are crucial to the work of lawyers defending the human rights of those who are often marginalized from power,” said Michaël Sombart, Director of Strategic Partnerships of the ICJ. “With this project the ICJ can help lawyers around the world benefit from the reputation and high standing of the Swiss legal community and bring the message of the Genève humanitaire beyond borders.”

The ICJ and Geneva Bar Association launch ambitious global project


https://www.icj.org/fr/licj-et-lordre-des-avocats-de-geneve-lancent-avec-la-communaute-juridique-de-la-republique-un-projet-ambitieux-de-cooperation-internationale/ (FRANCAIS)

https://www.odage.ch/ (FRANCAIS)

Saudi Arabia: Jailed Saudi activists honored with Right Livelihood Award

November 24, 2018

Three Saudi activists have been honored alongside anti-corruption campaigners at the awards ceremony. Known as the Alternative Nobel, the prize recognizes efforts thought to be ignored by the Nobel prizes.

Right Livelihood Award laureates Thelma Aldana, Tony Rinaudo, Yacouba Sawadogo and Iván Velásquez hold up a picture of the three jailed laureates from Saudi Arabia, Abdullah Al-Hamid, Waleed Abu Al-Khair and Mohammad Fahad Al-Qahtani

Three jailed activists in Saudi Arabia were among a series of people recognized for their work at the presentation of the so-called “Alternative Nobel Prize” on Friday.

The Saudis were honored in absentia at the Right Livelihood Award Foundation ceremony in Sweden for campaigning for reform in the repressive kingdom.

The co-founders of the banned Saudi Association for Civil and Political Rights, Abdullah al-Hamid and Mohammad Fahad al-Qahtani, are serving sentences of 10 and 11 years. The third Saudi, Waleed Abu al-Khair, was sentenced to 15 years in 2014. He is known for defending activists such as jailed blogger Raif Badawi.

The foundation urged the kingdom to stop “harassing and killing those who fight” for democracy. Foundation head Ole von Uexkull said last week the trio had “acted through peaceful means” in their activism.

Al-Qahtani’s son, Omar, and London-based Saudi human rights activist Yahya Assiri accepted the award. “They inspire and encourage many others to follow in their footsteps,” said Assiri, urging the Saudi authorities to release the trio.

The annual awards were created in 1980 to honor efforts that the philanthropist prize founder Jakob von Uexkull felt were being ignored by the Nobel prizes.








https://fr.euronews.com/2018/11/24/trois-saoudiens-emprisonnes-recompenses-a-stockholm (FRANCAIS)

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waleed_Abu_al-Khair (FRANCAIS)

http://www.ludovictrarieux.org/ (FRANCAIS)

https://derstandard.at/2000092145354/Alternativnobelpreis-fuer-inhaftierte-Saudi-Aktivisten (DEUTSCH)

http://www.laconexionusa.com/noticias/20181123188416_lc18841623.asp (ESPANOL)

http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=249420 (ESPANOL)

https://pt.euronews.com/2018/11/24/nobel-alternativo-distingue-ativistas-sociais (PORTUGUES)

Image may contain: 1 person, beard, eyeglasses and text


Brazil/Colombia/Guatemala/Honduras/ Mexico/The Philippines: Stop the Killings

June 21, 2018

Stop the Killings Report.jpg

“Stop the Killings” analyzes the root causes of the killing of HRDs in Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and the Philippines.

The report is based on original research by Comitê Brasileiro de Defensoras e Defensores de Direitos Humanos – CBDDH, (Brazil), Programa Somos Defensores (Colombia), UDEFEGUA (Guatemala), ACI-Participa (Honduras), Comité Cerezo (Mexico) and iDEFEND, Karapatan and Pahra (Philippines).

With a forward from United Natiosn Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders Michel Forst and introduction by Front Line Defenders Exective Director Andrew Anderson, “Stop the Killings” is a vital resource for understanding the current and alarming increase of killings of human rights defenders globally.





Guatemala: Guatemala’s crusading prosecutor exits amid praise, threats

May 7, 2018

Thelma Aldana

It’s been a long time since it was safe for Thelma Aldana to go out in public alone, and perhaps it never will be again.

As chief prosecutor for Guatemala, Aldana won plaudits at home and abroad as the woman who sent a president to prison and broke up a number of high-level corruption rings. But it came at a cost — her own personal safety — as her crusading angered some of the country’s most powerful and dangerous people, long accustomed to doing as they pleased with little or no consequences.

The biggest trophy on her wall from four years in office: Taking down a network allegedly led by then-President Otto Perez Molina, who is accused of defrauding the state of millions of dollars.

“In the Bible it says you shall know them by their fruits, and I gave my best effort,” Aldana said in a series of interviews with The Associated Press as she prepares to leave office when her term ends this month. “With all modesty, I leave with my head high.”

Those close to her call the 62-year-old Aldana “the boss.” She is described as a strictly punctual person and a voracious reader. Appearing before news cameras to announce the latest corruption ring to fall, she typically appears calm, collected and intrepid. Her facial expression is often tough and inscrutable, making it difficult to guess what she is thinking.

It seems the only one able to crack that demeanor is Toby, her 5-year-old Shih Tzu. Speaking to the AP in a small room at her offices decorated with recognitions where she likes to receive visitors, Aldana broke into a broad smile recalling how when she brings work home, Toby likes to rest in the cardboard box she uses to carry the same documents that could end up putting criminals and politicians behind bars.







http://www.elsalvador.com/noticias/internacional/478596/thelma-aldana-la-fiscal-que-apreso-a-un-presidente-en-guatemala-no-puede-salir-sola-a-las-calles-de-su-pais/ (ESPANOL)

http://cnnespanol.cnn.com/video/thelma-aldana-guatemala-trayectoria-anticorrupcion-live-kay-guerrero-conclusiones/ (ESPANOL)

https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thelma_Aldana (ESPANOL)

https://www.agenzianova.com/a/5af00f6c867368.10840220/1911792/2018-05-07/guatemala-procuratrice-generale-uscente-riferisce-del-suo-mandato (ITALIANO)