Over 40 social organizations, in a press conference Sunday, demanded the Guatemalan government to put a stop to the murder and criminalization of human rights defenders.
In a statement, the groups said that during the Jimmy Morales government, which came to power in 2016, the criminalization of social leaders who defend their land and resources has been expanded.
So far this year, 18 social and community leaders and human rights activists have been murdered, according to the Protection Unit for Guatemala's Human Rights Defenders (Udefegua). The last being the Ixil leader Juana Raimundo, who was murdered on June 28 in the Quiché department.
The social organizations, in the statement, asked for the "immediate stop" to the murders and that the state "doesn't allow actions that violate the rights and freedoms of the Guatemalan population."
"We reject the repression of the government and the crimes against human rights defenders," read the statement. Furthermore, the organizations demanded that the Public Ministry closes the criminal process opened against human rights defenders and Indigenous and Campesino leaders.
A group of United Nations human rights experts expressed, in a statement released on Aug. 9, their deep concern over the number of assassinations, assaults, and threats against human rights defenders in Guatemala. These social leaders are suffering under "an increasing environment of stigmatization," they said.