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Motion for a resolution - B9-0182/2022Motion for a resolution
B9-0182/2022

    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

    Tilly Metz, Francisco Guerreiro, Ernest Urtasun, Jordi Solé, Hannah Neumann, Bronis Ropė, Ignazio Corrao, Martin Häusling, Saskia Bricmont
    on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group

    See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B9-0182/2022

    NB: This motion for a resolution is available in the original language only.
    Procedure : 2022/2621(RSP)
    Document stages in plenary
    Document selected :  
    B9-0182/2022
    Texts tabled :
    B9-0182/2022
    Texts adopted :

    B9‑0182/2022

    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 resolutions on Guatemala on 15 March 2007, on 16 February 2017 and on 14 March 2019;

     

    -  having regard to its resolutions of 11 December 2012 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion of the Agreement establishing an Association between the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and Central America, of the other part[1];

     

    -  having regard to its resolution of 25 October 2016 on corporate liability for serious human rights violations in third countries[2];

     

    -  having regard to the European Union Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders and the EU Strategic Framework on Human Rights;

     

    -  having regard to the commitments made by the EU in its new Human Rights and Democracy Action Plan 2021-2024 to promote fundamental freedoms and strengthen civic and political space; to support indigenous peoples; to support the rule of law and fair judicial administration; and to reduce accountability gaps, fight impunity and support transitional justice.

     

    -  having regard to the statement by the spokesperson of the European External Action Service (EEAS) of 23 march 2022 on the deterioration of the rule of law in Guatemala; of 11 February 2022 on the rule of law situation[3]; and of 2 of September 2018 on the Guatemalan Government's unilateral decision not to renew the mandate of the CIGIC;

     

    -  having regard to the report of 18 March 2022 on follow-up to the concluding observation of the UN Human Rights Committee;

     

    -  having regard to the statement by the IACHR and UN Special Rapporteur of 9 March 2022 urging Guatemala to Guarantee Independence and Impartiality in the Appointment of the Country's New Attorney General[4];

     

    -  having regard to the statement by the spokesperson of the U.S Department of State of 8 March 2022 on Guatemala’s Public Ministry’s Continued Attacks against Independent Judges and Prosecutors[5];

     

    -  having regard to the report of 28 February 2022 of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights describing the human rights situation and the activities of the office in Guatemala from 1 January to 31 December 2021;

     

    -  having regard to the statement by the United Kingdom of 16 February 2022 on rule of law[6];

     

    -  having regard to the statement by the spokesperson for the Secretary General on Guatemala of the 11 February 2022[7];

     

    -  having regard to the statement of UN experts on 27 July 2021 on the criminalisation, violations of due process and health rights of an indigenous human rights defender in Guatemala; to the statement on 2 July 2021 and on 19 April 2021 on the situation of judges in Guatemala[8];

     

    -  having regard to the statement by the IACHR on 18 March 2021 expressing concern over impeachment proceedings brought against members of Guatemala's Constitutional Court[9];

     

    -  having regard to the statement by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of association on 19 May 2021 rejecting the entry into force of reforms to the Nongovernmental Organizations Act in Guatemala[10];

     

    -  having regard to the statement of 6 March 2019 by Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, on the possible approval of a law restricting NGOs in Guatemala[11];

     

    -  having regard to the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean signed in Escazú on 4 March 2018;

     

    -  having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966;

     

    -  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948;

     

    -  having regard to the American Convention on Human Rights “Pact of San Jose” of 1969;

     

    -  having regard to all the fundamental conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO), by which Guatemala is bound as ratifying state;

     

    -  having regard to Articles 135(5) and 123(4) of its Rules of Procedure;

     

     

    1. whereas violence and human rights violations are increasing in Guatemala; whereas, in particular, systematic attacks and harassment against lawyers, prosecutors, judges and magistrates of the former Constitutional Court working on transitional justice cases investigating cases of corruption continue to be witnessed;

     

    1. whereas civil society organisations, human rights defenders are at particular risk, especially environmental defenders, indigenous people, communities, and women rights defenders; whereas the situation of the rule of law is seriously deteriorating;

     

    1. whereas in January 2019 the government cancelled the agreement between the UN on the CICIG and requested the CICIG to leave the country;

     

    1. whereas this year, the president and Congress will appoint three key figures of  the political life in Guatemala: the Attorney General, the Human Rights Ombudsperson, and the Comptroller General; whereas these positions will play an extremely significant role in the political campaigns for the upcoming presidential elections in 2023;

     

    1. whereas in April 2021, through a controversial appointment and a highly questioned selection process new magistrates to the Constitutional Court were selected; whereas the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers also expressed in April 2021 his deep concern with the harassment and intimidation to the judiciary in the country and deploring these actions as part of the weakening of the rule of law and judicial independence in the country[12];

     

    1. whereas at the end of July 2021, the General Prosecutor fired Francisco Sandoval, the leading anti-corruption prosecutor in Guatemala with immediate effect and without following a due administrative process; whereas in October 2021, the head of the Human Rights Prosecutor's Office, Hilda Pineda, who had more than 10 years of experience in the investigation and prosecution of cases of human rights violations, was dismissed by the Prosecutor General;

     

    1. whereas more than twenty judges and prosecutors have been forced into exile, including former attorneys general Claudia Paz and Thelma Aldana, and Juan Francisco Sandoval and the Judge Erika Aifán; whereas in February 2022, the General-Prosecutor Consuelo Porras mobilised the police and the Special Prosecutor Against Impunity (FECI) to arrest or lift the immunity of a number of judges who played a prominent role in high-profile cases and corruption investigations; whereas the spokesperson of the European External Action Service reacted calling on the authorities to ensure the safety of those detained and to safeguard their right to due process;

     

    1. whereas according to Transparency International data, in the past ten years Guatemala has dropped 59 positions in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), from 91st place (2010) to 150th out of 180 countries; whereas in September 2021, the United States announced actions against the Attorney General of the Republic, Consuelo Porras, as well as the Secretary General of the Public Prosecutor's Office, Angel Pineda for undermining democracy and obstructing investigations into acts of corruption (Engel List)[13];

     

    1. whereas the situation for human rights defenders continues to be  highly dangerous; whereas the Unit for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders of Guatemala in 2020 reported 1.004 cases of attacks against human rights defenders, including 15 murders and 313 cases of penal sanctions against actions in defence of human rights; whereas particularly, defenders of indigenous peoples’ rights, women human rights defenders and defenders of land face serious threats; whereas journalists, judges and lawyers working to uncover corruption are frequently exposed to threats and persecution; whereas the processes of criminalisation, which include stigmatisation, defamation, intimidation, the misuse of criminal procedures and breaches of due process, affect a historically discriminated and excluded sector of the population which is now, due to the breakdown of the justice system, left in a situation of extreme defencelessness and vulnerability;

     

    1. whereas the attacks and criminalisation processes against defenders of land, territory, the environment and the rights of indigenous peoples come from state and non-state actors; whereas the right to free, prior, and informed consent before approval of large-scale projects which affect indigenous peoples is very rarely  implemented and often makes long-standing disputes and tensions violently resurface such as  in the municipality of El Estor, Izaba where the indigenous Q'eqchí fishermen have been fighting since 2017 against the pollution of Lake Izabal, their livelihood;

     

    1. whereas various local and national government officials have harassed and threatened the media and journalists; whereas criminal proceedings have been opened against several journalists, especially indigenous and community media journalists; whereas there has been little progress in investigations into the threats, attacks and three murders of journalists since President Giammattei took office in 2020, according to figures from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), perpetuating impunity widespread in cases of violence against journalists in Guatemala.

     

    1. whereas the restrictive normative framework through the NGO Law 4-202, is tightening government supervision and is opening the door for cancellation of NGOs who do not comply with administrative requirements and could cause the generalized closure of spaces for the civil society;

     

    1. whereas the Guatemalan Government has dismantled the institutional framework created by the Peace Accords with the aim of seeking dialogue-based and sustainable solutions to social conflict, developing human rights policies, implementing and monitoring the precautionary measures issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, replacing these bodies with a single one with even fewer resources and which, one year after its creation, is still not working to its full potential; whereas at this moment, the only human rights defence body left, the Human Rights Ombudsman's Office, and in particular its director, Ombudsman Mr. Jordán Rodas, is suffering permanent defamation and intimidation, and that for months in the second half of 2021, Congress withheld transfers from the budget for the Human Rights Ombudsman's Office, putting its functioning at serious risk;

     

    1. whereas Aura Lolita Chávez, indigenous environmental defender from Guatemala and Sakharov finalist of the European Parliament in 2017, left her country after serious attacks,  murder threat and defamation, and faces various judicial processes, if she returns to Guatemala;

     

    1. whereas Guatemala has one of the highest inequality rates and some of the worst poverty, malnutrition and maternal-child mortality rates in the region, especially in rural and indigenous areas; whereas Guatemala ranks sixth for chronic malnutrition in the world and has the highest prevalence in the Western Hemisphere, whereas malnutrition is compromising the health of women and children;

     

    1. Whereas there are reports of abuses of labour rights in Guatemala, in particular in the sugar industry, including deceptive recruitment, underpayment of wages, forced overtime, child labor, inadequate food and lack of potable water, limits on freedom of movement, and hazardous working condition;

     

    1. whereas the development and consolidation of democracy and the rule of law, as well as respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, must form an integral part of the Union's external policies, including the Association Agreement concluded in 2012 between the Union and the countries of Central America and constitute a central element of the EU’s engagement with Guatemala;  whereas Guatemala is the third largest recipient of EU bilateral development aid in Central America;

     

    1. Condemns the threatening, harassment and criminalization against lawyers, prosecutors, judges and magistrates and, urges the Guatemalan authorities to guarantee conditions of independence and impartiality for all justice operators in Guatemala and to cease all illegal attacks, to put an end to acts of harassment, threats and arbitrary criminal prosecution against judges, prosecutors and former CICIG lawyers;

     

    1. Expresses its concern about the dismantling of an impartial and independent justice system and insists that all institutions that defend constitutional democracy and human rights in Guatemala need to be strengthened; recalls that guaranteeing an independent judiciary and  respecting its independence, as well as ensuring an impartial legal system, are essential; stresses that  these are key to consolidating efforts to combat corruption and impunity;

     

    1. Urges the Government of Guatemala, the Congress of the Republic and all the responsible bodies to guarantee in full transparency a professional, ethical procedure that complies with national and international standards of the rule of law, when selecting the candidate for the next Attorney General;

     

    1. Welcomes the action taken by some Members States and the Delegation of the European Union in Guatemala regarding protection measures for defenders and, calls on the European Union to substantially expand this support and, if  necessary, to step up projects to support the work of civil society organizations in Guatemala, asks to fully implement the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders and on Freedom of Expression Online and Offline and to use all available instruments, including the wider observation of hearings of criminalised defenders, and particularly considering also rural, indigenous and women defenders, to increase their support for human rights and environmental defenders’ work, and, where appropriate, to facilitate the issuing of emergency visas, and provide temporary shelter in the EU Member;

     

    1. Urges the Government of Guatemala to take concrete, prompt and effective measures to implement a public policy for protection of human rights defenders and journalists in a comprehensive and coherent strategy for prevention, protection, reparations and accountability in order to ensure that human rights defenders, in particular indigenous and women human rights defenders, can continue their activities without fear of reprisal and without restriction; ask to the Guatemala government to re-establish the mechanisms to protect human rights defenders closed down during last years, and which have not been taken up by COPADEH.

     

    1. Calls on the Guatemalan authorities to implement immediately all the precautionary measures issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to protect human rights defenders, lawyers, prosecutors, judges and magistrates who have been granted these measures;

     

    1. Calls on the Guatemalan government 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 so, and to ensure that the Office of the Prosecutor for Crimes against Journalists is adequately funded, resourced and staffed with trained personnel who focus exclusively on crimes against journalists, so that they can investigate physical and digital attacks against journalists.; encourages that the training they receive should pay attention to gender considerations, membership of indigenous communities and other identity characteristics of the victims;

     

    1. Request the Attorney General and other appropriate public institutions to collect reliable and exhaustive information and data on threats and acts of violence against human rights defenders and journalists, including information on the gender and other demographic characteristics of human rights defenders and journalists, and make such information available to the public;

     

    1. Is equally concerned about the reforms of the Law on Non-Governmental Development Organisations; reminds the authorities and institutions of Guatemala of the need to create and maintain a safe and conducive environment for NGOs to freely express their opinions and conduct their work for the benefit of society at large; underlines that these reforms restrict freedom of expression and assembly as well access to funds, and opens the door to the arbitrary banning of NGOs;

     

    1. Expresses its concern about the normative framework that has been presented to regulate sexual and reproductive rights (Decree 18-2022), that criminalized such rights and does not comply with national and international standards.; although the decree was filed, gender-based and sexual violence against women and girls are widespread in Guatemala, so calls for the implementation of progressive, comprehensive and inclusive public policies to promote gender equality and address the structural causes of gender based violence;

     

    1. Regrets that, 25 years after the signing of the Guatemalan Peace Agreement which is far from having been implemented, the Government has dismantled important bodies for their implementation, such as the Presidential Commission on Human Rights, the National Reparations Programme, the Secretariat for Agrarian Affairs and others; deplores 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;

     

    1. Calls on the Guatemalan Government to prioritise the ratification of the Escazú Agreement; calls on the Commission, in particular, to initiate a programme in support of the Escazú Agreement, with the aim, inter alia, of assisting Guatemala in implementing the Agreement, assisting civil society in engaging with the Agreement and contributing to its implementation, and providing support for the voluntary fund established under the Agreement;
    2. Calls on EU-based economic operators and companies to apply extensive due diligence in all their dealings in and within Guatemala in full compliance with the 2018 OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Business Conduct, in order to ensure that business activities do not contribute to human rights violations, notably with regards to human rights and environmental defenders;
    3. Calls on the Guatemalan Government to fully cooperate with the UN bodies and to renew the mandate of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for a reasonable period to allow it to fulfil its mandate in an independent manner;

     

    1. Insists that Guatemalan authorities must ensure the legal and physical safety of the Sakharov Prize 2017 finalist Lolita Chávez, as well as her family and community;

     

    1. 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 Secretariat for Central American Economic Integration (SIECA), the Central American Parliament and the Co-Presidents of the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly.
    Last updated: 5 April 2022
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