Fighting impunity in Guatemala, case by case

February 10, 2012

“The secrets from a vault of moldy documents long covered in bat and rat droppings could soon help to put former top Guatemalan officials behind bars, years after the country’s brutal civil war ended in 1996,” Mica Rosenberg and Kieran Murray write for Reuters:

Clues found in the millions of police documents have lifted a lid on government repression during the 36-year war, and provided enough evidence to start sending cases to trial. … Guatemala made the documents accessible to the public in 2009, and some 12 million digitalized copies from the archives have been published online by the University of Texas at Austin. … Most attribute the recent successes of long-cobwebbed human rights cases to Guatemala’s new attorney general, Claudia Paz y Paz. She worked as a human rights activist before being appointed in December 2010 after her predecessors were disgraced in corruption scandals. With her backing, Guatemala’s most notorious dictator Efrain Rios Montt, who ruled during the bloodiest period of the civil war in 1982 and 1983, is set to be tried for genocide, a milestone for those who spent years pushing for his prosecution.

We recently reported on human rights successes in Guatemala; and two other instrumental figures in the fight against impunity in Guatemala, Fredy Peccerelli and Kate Doyle, will receive the 2012 ALBA/Puffin Human Rights Activism Award in May. Read the full Reuters piece in the New York Times.