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Motion for a resolution - B9-0180/2022Motion for a resolution
B9-0180/2022

    MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on The situation of the rule of law and human rights in the Republic of Guatemala

    5.4.2022 - (2022/2621(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 144 of the Rules of Procedure

    Miguel Urbán Crespo, Marisa Matias
    on behalf of The Left Group

    NB: This motion for a resolution is available in the original language only.
    Procedure : 2022/2621(RSP)
    Document stages in plenary
    Document selected :  
    B9-0180/2022
    Texts tabled :
    B9-0180/2022
    Texts adopted :

    B9‑0180/2022

    European Parliament resolution on The situation of the rule of law and human rights in the Republic of Guatemala

    (2022/2621(RSP))

    The European Parliament,

    -  having regard to its previous resolutions on Guatemala,

     

    -  having regard to the Statements by the spokesperson of the HR/VP of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, on the rule of law situation in Guatemala of 11 February 2022, and on the deterioration of the rule of law in Guatemala of 23 March 2022,

     

    -  having regard to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, the International Covenants on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and on Civil and Political Rights of 1966, and the United Nations Declarations on Human Rights Defenders of 1998,

     

    -  having regard to the statement of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers urging Guatemala to Guarantee Independence and Impartiality in the Appointment of the Country's New Attorney General of 9th March 2022,

     

    -  having regards to the Statement of the Spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General on Guatemala of 11 February 2022,

     

    -  having regard to Rule 144 of its Rules of Procedure,

     

     

     

    1. whereas since 2019 when the government of Jimmy Morales unilaterally decided to terminate the mandate of the International Commission against Impunity (CICIG), Guatemala has suffered a continuous process of institutional co-optation and dismantling of the rule of law, which has seriously eroded institutions and democracy in the country;

     

    1. whereas this process has been marked by the disarticulation of the entities guaranteeing fundamental rights,  refusal by Congress to proceed with selecting judges to the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals and to swear in the head judge of the Constitutional Court, removal of the chief of the Special Prosecutor’s Office against Impunity (FECI), and attacks, smear campaigns, criminal prosecutions, intimidation and systematic obstruction of the legitimate work of justice operators in particular those from the CICIG, the Human Rights Prosecutor’s Office and the FECI working on the fight against impunity and on cases of serious human rights violations and corruption; whereas the co-optation of the judicial system ensures more impunity for criminal networks operating in the country;

     

    1. whereas there have been 137 attacks on justice officials and more than 20 judges and prosecutors have been forced into exile, including former attorneys general Claudia Paz and Thelma Aldana, Juan Francisco Sandoval who led the FECI, and the Judge Erika Aifán, who was currently working on a corruption case allegedly involving the President of Guatemala, Alejandro Giammattei;

     

    1. whereas in May 2022, the  new Attorney General of the Republic will be elected and the current one  is the main candidate, despite allegations against her for corruption and abuse of power; whereas in the context of this process, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Magistrates, stated that he has received complaints regarding the lack of transparency and independence of the functioning of the Nominating Commission;

     

    1. whereas the weakening of the justice system has accentuated aggressions and criminalization of civil society organisations; whereas between January and November 2021 the Unit for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders in Guatemala (UDEFEGUA) recorded 839 attacks against human rights defenders (HRDs), organisations and communities;

     

    1. whereas according to the UN Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR), the sector that suffers more attacks and criminalisation are those who defend land, territory, the environment and the rights of indigenous peoples; whereas in 2020, Global Witness ranked Guatemala as the country with the seventh highest number of murdered environmental HRD in the world (13); whereas since 2018, 23 members of the a peasant organization “Comité de Desarrollo Campesino” (CODECA), have been killed and from January to October 2020, at least 881 arrest warrants were issued against just one peasant organisation, the Comité Campesino del Altiplano”; whereas hundreds of social and indigenous leaders such as Bernardo Caal, Eduardo Bin, Anabella España Reyes, Abelino Salvador Mejía, Flavio Vicente and Virgilio García Carrillo, have been prosecuted and detained; whereas the victims of this criminalisation have repeatedly pointed out that attacks and accusations often come from non-state actors, including non-state actors linked to transnational corporations and their security services;

     

    1. whereas according to the last report of the HCHR Indigenous peoples and people of African descent continued to face multidimensional forms of discrimination and economic and social inequalities, exacerbated by the pandemic; whereas the situation of indigenous peoples in Guatemala is characterized by the lack of protection of the rights to their lands, territories and natural resources; whereas the right to free, prior, and informed consent before approval of large-scale projects has never been really implemented and often makes long-standing disputes and tensions violently resurface; whereas indigenous peoples suffer violence, forced evictions and criminalization;

     

    1. whereas the repression, harassment and criminalisation of social and indigenous protest in El Estor, Izabal where the indigenous Q'eqchí have been defending their rights since 2017; whereas despite the Constitutional Court, ruled in favour of the community in July 2019 and June 2020, the mining company continues to operate and the population involved in the protests has been excluded from the consultation process; whereas the recent revelations of corruption by the company which led to state of Emergency, smearing and attacks of human rights defenders and continuous violations of Constitutional Court ruling and environmental and human rights;

     

    1. whereas the erosion and weakening of the rule of law has also been marked by the use of restrictive legislation to further close the workspace of civil society; whereas NGO Law 4-202, which implementation began in February 2022, seeks to restrict the activities of NGOs, giving the Interior Ministry the right to close them at its discretion if it considers that they do not contribute to the common good and/or "alter public order"; whereas the government has also been using the declaration of states of prevention or emergency to restrict the fundamental rights of the population such as freedom of movement, association and expression;

     

    1. whereas Guatemala is ranked 116 of 180 countries on the World Press Freedom Index; whereas independent journalists and social communicators who report on human rights violations, setbacks in the pursuit of peace, justice and reparation, as well as corruption cases, are systematically harassed; whereas between January and July 2021, UDEFEGUA reported 87 attacks against them; whereas Carlos Ernesto Choc Chub, an indigenous Maya Q'eqchi community journalist, has faced attacks, judicial harassment including criminalisation and threats due to its work covering the situation around the mining company in El Estor;

     

    1. whereas the limited progress that Guatemala was making in recent years in adjudicating major crimes seems to have come to a standstill; whereas the Government has dismantled the entire institutional framework created by the Peace Accords; whereas the 5377 initiative to reform the National Reconciliation Law, which would extend amnesty for all crimes committed by the national security forces and by persons acting on behalf of the government, including crimes against humanity is still at risk of being approved;

     

    1. whereas gender based violence remained among the most prevalent human rights violations; whereas between January and December 2021, were recorded 60,089 act of violence against women and 478 femicides and as of 26 October 2021, 29 LGTBI persons were killed; whereas abortion is legal only when a pregnant person’s life is in danger and Guatemala’s civil code limits the sexual and reproductive rights of women and girls with disabilities, including by forcing sterilization and other contraceptive treatments without their consent;

     

     

     

    1. Is extremely concerned over the ongoing deterioration of the rule of law in Guatemala where the Supreme Court of Justice and the Prosecutor-general have initiated legal actions against independent judges, lawyers and prosecutors who investigate or prosecute criminal structures with ties to high-ranking state officials and business owners;
    2. Condemns the attacks and criminalization of judicial operators and urges the Guatemalan authorities to put an end to these actions and to take the necessary measures to protect them; urges the authorities to secure the safe return of those forced to leave the country;
    3. Demands the authorities to ensure that the processes to appoint a new Attorney General, HR Ombudsperson and Comptroller General are conducted through a transparent and fair procedure, in accordance with international standards; asks to proceed with the election of magistrates of the Supreme Court of Justice and Courts of Appeals following the criteria established by the Constitutional Court;
    4. Condemns the murders and attacks of HRDs, journalists and social leaders and expresses its concern on the particular situation of those defending the right to land and territory, who are facing criminalization and permanent attacks to their rights;
    5. Underlines that the Guatemalan authorities must guarantee that HRDs are able to carry out their work and in that sense urges the authorities to develop a Public Police for the Protection of HRDs, to end impunity and to legally prosecute the actors of attacks on HRDs;
    6. Calls on the authorities to assure that the judicial system will not be used as a tool to prosecute civil society and communities and that in all cases a fair and transparent judicial process will be ensured; calls on the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all who have been imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of expression or for defending their rights; welcomes the current release of Bernardo Caal Xol, and urges the authorities to drop all charges against him;
    7. Insists that Guatemalan authorities must declare and ensure the legal and physical safety of Sakharov finalist Lolita Chávez, if she decides to return to her home country;
    8. Calls on EU Delegation and Member States to monitor the trials of the social leaders prosecuted, taking special attention to rural, indigenous and women defenders;
    9. Calls on the Guatemalan authorities to refrain from using the NGO Law and the declaration of states of prevention or emergency to limit the human rights of all Guatemalan citizens, in particular their rights to freedom of expression and association;
    10. Calls to ensure that elected officials and security forces do not harass, detain or impose arbitrary restrictions on journalists carrying out their work, and to investigate those who do that;
    11. Condemns all forms of violence against women and LGBTI people and recalls that these constitute a serious violation of their human rights; welcomes Congress' shelving of the "Protection of Life and Family Act", emphasizes the inalienable right of women and girls to dispose of their bodies and sexuality in all circumstances and calls for the removal of all obstacles to access to sexual health and rights including contraception and the right to abortion;
    12. Reiterates its concern already expressed in its March 2019 resolution about the lack of free, prior and informed consultation (ILO Convention 169); recalls that the rights of indigenous peoples must be fully respected; calls on the EU to ensure that no European assistance or support promotes or permits development projects without fulfilling the obligation of free, prior and informed consultation with indigenous communities, nor without ensuring meaningful consultation of all affected communities and that strong human rights, labour rights and environmental safeguards are put in place;
    13. Denounces the negative effects of the activities of EU "multinationals" in Guatemala, such as the general impoverishment and systematic violation of human rights due to the exploitation of its human and natural resources, and condemns the impunity from which these companies benefit in Guatemala; calls on the Member States to ensure that companies which come under their national law, do not disregard human rights or the social, health and environmental standards which apply to them when moving to, or doing business in, a third country; calls on the Commission and Member States to take actions against European based companies, which do not comply with those standards or which do not adequately compensate victims of human rights violations for which they are directly or indirectly responsible;
    14. Recalls that according to the Association Agreement between the EU and Central America, Guatemala must respect and consolidate the principles of the rule of law, democracy and human rights; in the light of the current circumstances, calls on the European Commission to immediately suspend the provisional application of the trade pillar of the Association Agreement EU-CA with Guatemala;
    15. Regrets that, 25 years after the signing of the Guatemalan Peace Accords and far from having been implemented, the Government has dismantled important bodies for their realisation, and that the Agreements relating to socio-economic aspects, to address extreme poverty and poverty, the acute inequality in land tenure and the exclusion of the majority of the population from basic services, have not been fulfilled; recalls that international standards establish limits regarding the adoption of amnesties for the most serious crimes and point out that they are incompatible with State obligations to prosecute grave violations of human rights;
    16. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the President, Government and Congress of the Republic of Guatemala, the UN Human Rights Council, the Secretariat for Central American Economic Integration (SIECA), and the Euro Latin Parliamentary Assembly.
    Last updated: 5 April 2022
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