A group of United Nations (UN) human rights experts expressed, in a statement released Thursday, their deep concern over the number of assassinations, assaults, and threats against human rights defenders in Guatemala. These social leaders suffering under "an increasing environment of stigmatization" according to the officials.
Eleven Human Rights activist and social leaders have been killed between May and July in Guatemala; U.N. experts have called for an independent investigation into the matter and for the State to consider making a greater attempt to protect them. The murdered activist were mainly indigenous people fighting against corporations and in defense of their land rights according to the statement.
The eleven murdered activists are: Luis Arturo Marroquín Gómez, Alejandro Hernández GarcíaFlorencio Nájera, Francisco Munguía, José Can Xol, Mateo Chamán Pauu, Ramón Choc Sacrab, Luis Armando Maldonado, Juana Raymundo; Estuardo Quevado and Adolofo Chon Pacay.
"We are concerned that the frequency and severity of these attacks may have implications for the entire population, sending a message that there are dangerous consequences if human rights are defended, especially since these crimes often go unpunished," the group of experts expressed.
Their concern is complemented by a request to the State to investigate the assassinations in an "objective, transparent and independent" manner, in order to bring the perpetrators to justice. They also denounced that several human rights defendants are victims of judiciary processes that have little or no fundamental bases.
The group also criticized laws in Congress that could affect the civil society work and could put in peril the defense and promotion of human rights. Finally, they urged the corporations to see the human rights defenders and the civil society as "key partners" and not as enemies of their productive activities.