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MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on Guatemala, notably the situation of human rights defenders

14.2.2017 - (2017/2565(RSP))

with request for inclusion in the agenda for a debate on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law
pursuant to Rule 135 of the Rules of Procedure

Victor Boştinaru, Soraya Post, Carlos Zorrihno on behalf of the S&D Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-0152/2017

Förfarande : 2017/2565(RSP)
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European Parliament resolution on Guatemala, notably the situation of human rights defenders


The European Parliament,

-having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to the UN human rights conventions and the optional protocols thereto,


-having regard to the European Convention on Human Rights, the European Social Charter and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights,


-having regard to its previous resolutions on the violation of human rights, including its resolutions on debates on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law,


-having regard to European Parliament resolution of 21 January 2016 on the EU’s priorities for the UNHRC sessions in 2016 (2015/3035(RSP))


-having regard to the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy (2015-2019),


-having regard to the EU Guidelines for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, the Strategic Framework on Human Rights, which commits to engage on human rights defenders


-having regard to the 1989 International Labour Organisation Convention concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries (ILO Convention 169),


-having regard to the human rights clauses of the EU-Central America Association Agreement and the EU-Central America Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA), in force since 2013,


-having regard to the Multiannual Indicative Programme for Guatemala 2014-2020, and its engagement to contribute to the resolution of conflicts, to peace and security


-having regards to the Declaration by the High Representative Federica Mogherini on behalf of the European Union on Human Rights Day, 10 December 2016


-having regard to the Declaration of the High Representative Federica Mogherini on Human Rights Defenders in Guatemala, 17 August 2016


-having regard to the Santo Domingo Declaration of the EU-CELAC Ministerial Meeting of 25-26 October 2016


-having regard to the Statement of the Group of Thirteen on the strengthening of the rule of law and fight against corruption and impunity, 1 February 2017


-having regard to Articles 2, 3(5), 18, 21, 27 and 47 of the Treaty on European Union,


-having regard to Rules 135 of its Rules of Procedure



A.Whereas Guatemala suffers an structural violence generated by narco and organised crime due to its geographical situation; whereas the whole society is affected by high criminality rates and most specifically human rights defenders, NGO´s and local authorities;


B.Whereas in 2016 Guatemala registered fourteen murders and seven attempted murders of human rights defenders; whereas 2017 has already seen the killing of human rights defenders Laura Leonor Vásquez Pineda and Sebastián Alonzo Juan; whereas both were environmental land rights defenders; whereas this shows a clear upward trend considering that in 2014 and 2015 there were seven and twelve murders respectively.


C.Whereas 2016 saw 223 aggressions against HRDs including 68 new legal cases launched against HRDs; whereas 65% (122 out of 185) of the murders of human rights defenders working on issues related to land, territory or the environment registered across the world in 2015 were from Latin America, 10 in Guatemala alone, making them the highest rate per capita in the region


D.Whereas 2017 commemorates the 20th anniversary of the Peace Agreements for Guatemala; whereas the fight against impunity including the gross crimes committed during the former dictatorship is essential; whereas the Guatemalan authorities need to send a clear message to the material and intellectual authors of violence against HRD’s that such actions will not go unpunished.


E.Whereas the human rights situation is very grave and deteriorating; whereas the situation of women, children and indigenous people is matter of serious concern, together with access to justice, prison conditions, police conduct and allegations of torture, compounded by widespread corruption, collusion and impunity


F.Whereas according to the Inter American Court of Human Rights (IACHR), there is clear trend of criminalisation of HRD’s in the country; whereas it is common for arrest warrants to be issued against defenders and only executed at crucial moments depriving them of due defence; whereas HRD’s are often charged with grave criminal offences that require mandatory pre-trial detention; whereas defenders are often transferred to detention centres that are far removed from their family, community and other support structures.


G.Whereas Guatemala has ratified ILO’s conventions 169 concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples and Convention 87 on the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize; whereas there are some positives signs such as the creation of the Mesa Sindical del Ministerio Público; a draft bill for implementing preventive and security measures for trade unionist and their continuous work with CICIG on the investigation of twelve unionist murders


H.Whereas a new government was democratically elected on January 2016 and has since launched a plan to fight corruption and organised crime; whereas the government has taken some positive steps such the extension of the CIGIC (International Commission against impunity in Guatemala) mandate to 2019 and the presentation of a draft bill on constitutional justice reforms in the Guatemala legislature;


I.Whereas this process is highly endangered by harassment, such as smear campaigns, intimidation and falsified legal complaints against judicial operators; whereas emblematic cases of transitional justice move forward, such as those of Molina Theissen and CREOMPAZ, or those on corruption in the La Linea y Coparacha cases and others;


J.Whereas particularly worrying cases are the attacks against the security of attorneys such as the General Attorney Thelma Aldana, the judges Miguel Ángel Gálvez, Carlos Ruano and Yasmín Barrios, and the lawyers and human right defenders Michael Mörth, Ramón Cadena, Alejandro Rodríguez and Rafael Maldonado as well as the security of the Director of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), Iván Velasquez;




1.Condemns in the strongest terms the recent assassination of Laura Leonor Vásquez Pineda and Sebastian Alonzo Juan, as well as each of the 14 assassinations of other human rights defenders in Guatemala in 2016; extends its sincere condolences to the families and friends of all of those human rights defenders;


2.Pays tribute to all human rights defenders in Guatemala and urges for an immediate, independent, objective and through investigation into these and previous murders


3.Notes Guatemala efforts in its fight against organised crime and recognises the enormous difficulty of providing security and freedom to all its citizens in a structural violence situation such as the one generated by narco; calls on the Guatemalan government to mobilise all the means at its disposal in order to urgently and effectively protect human rights defenders in Guatemala and to fully use the laws and mechanisms already in place; to that end, calls on Guatemalan authorities to allocate sufficient funding and human resources to the Judiciary and in particular to the Attorney General’s office;


4.Calls on the EU institutions and its Member States to support by technically and budgetary means Guatemala on its fight against corruption and organised crime and to prioritise this efforts in bilateral cooperation programs


5.Recalls the need to develop a public policy for the protection of human rights defenders’ as stated by the Inter American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) in 2014; takes note of the recently launched National Dialogue and calls Guatemalan authorities to ensure that the public policy is developed in a wide participative process and it addresses the structural causes increasing the vulnerability of the defenders; welcomes the decision of the EU Delegation in Guatemala to financially contribute to the process of discussion and consultation of such a programme;


6.Notes positive developments on the implementation of ILO recommendations on protection of labour activists and unionist against killings and violence; recalls a participatory process is currently ongoing and calls Guatemala authorities to fasten the procedures to ensure the establishment of a national mechanism for free and informed prior consultations as foreseen under ILO 169;


7.Welcomes the initiative on a reform of justice system, presented by executive, judiciary and legislative powers to the congress in order to further develop a professional democratic justice system based on real judicial independence; calls the Guatemalan congress to join efforts in order to conclude the judicial reform in its integrity in 2017.


8.Asks the European Union and its member States to use the mechanisms laid down in the Association and Political Dialogue Agreement to strongly encourage Guatemala to carry out an ambitious human rights agenda and the fight against impunity; call the EU institutions and Member States to earmark sufficient funds and technical aid for this task in order provide full and visible political, financial and technical support to human right defenders in the country,


9.Request the European Union to support the General Attorney’s Office; strongly rejects any kind of pressure, intimidation and influence traffic, jeopardising independence, legal pluralism and objectivity,


10.Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the European External Action Service; the EU Special representative for Human Rights; the Organisation of American States, the Euro Latin Parliamentary Assembly; the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the President, Government and Parliament of the Republic of Guatemala.