The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) warned on Friday of the increasingly dangerous socio-political climate faced by activists working to defend human rights in Guatemala. Speaking on behalf of the OHCHR, Ravina Shamdasani, called on the country's government to urgently investigate the attacks of violence and work towards an environment free from threats and attacks.
“We are concerned about what appears to be a deteriorating climate for the defense of human rights in Guatemala,” said Shamdasani.
Speaking to reporters in Geneva, just days after a third human rights activist was murdered, she urged Guatemalan officials to guarantee a safe working environment for indigenous communities and activists.
Luis Arturo Marroquin, a leader of the Committee of Rural Development of Guatemala (Codeca), was murdered in the town of San Luis Jilotepeque Jalapa on May 9. Members of the group have accused the government of president Jimmy Morales of playing a role in his death.
One day later, a community leader of the Comite Campesino de Desarrollo del Altiplano (CCDA), a grassroots social justice organization, was killed. Three days later, on May 13, another member of the group was found dead.
The two most recent killings, according to UN News, occurred in a region of Guatemala where the CCDA, and other civil society groups, have been collaborating with the government to address over 50 land conflicts.
“We call on the authorities to promptly investigate these murders and other attacks and threats against human rights defenders, and to ensure that those found responsible are held accountable,” Shamdasani said. “We share the deep concerns about the protection of indigenous peoples who claim rights to land, as expressed by UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, during her visit to Guatemala earlier this month.”The announcement was made after three activists were murdered over the past ten days.