In 2014, Guatemala faced a crossroads: its president was strongly considering refusing to renew the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), a unique partnership between the United Nations and the Guatemalan government, which was set to expire in September 2015. Though Guatemala struggles with one of the world’s highest rates of impunity, CICIG had been instrumental in fostering accountability and shedding light on high-level corruption.
RFK Human Rights took action. Joining allies in Guatemala and Washington, D.C., we began marshaling support for CICIG. Our efforts, combined with those other advocacy groups, resulted in CICIG’s renewal, a significant victory for human rights advocates in Guatemala.
We’ve also been closely involved in working to end the epidemic of femicide that makes Guatemala one of the world’s most dangerous places to be a woman; in 2012, more than 700 women were killed simply because of their gender. Gender-based murders in Guatemala go unprosecuted 99% of the time.
One victim of this wave of killings was Claudina Isabel, a 19-year-old law student who was murdered in 2005. The Guatemalan government failed to properly investigate her death, and subsequent efforts by Claudina’s family to hold the state accountable for its misconduct were met with silence and contempt.
Last July, RFK Partners for Human Rights’ International Strategic Litigation Unit (ISLU) filed a case before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on behalf of Claudina and her family that details Guatemala’s responsibility for multiple human rights violations related to her death, ensuring that the government cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the crisis unfolding within its borders. In April 2015, ISLU with partners from the Guatemalan Association of Mayan Attorneys and Notaries concluded its presentation before the Inter-American Court on the case of Claudina. A favorable decision would change Guatemala and protect the rights of women throughout Latin America.
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News release | December 22, 2015