Our Voices

RFK Human Rights, CERJ bring case of four forcibly disappeared Guatemalan human rights defenders to Inter-American Court of Human Rights

On October 11th, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights held a hearing on the Pérez Lucas and others v. Guatemala case, regarding the enforced disappearance of four Indigenous human rights defenders during the country’s internal armed conflict. In 1989, as a result of their relentless work halting the forcible conscription of Indigenous peoples, they were abducted by military officers and their whereabouts remain unknown.

RFK Human Rights and our partners Comunidades Étnicas Runujel Junam (CERJ), represented by its founder, Amílcar Méndez, stood for the victims before the Court, emphasizing the persistent and structural impunity in the case and other serious violations of human rights in Guatemala. Expert witness Dr. Jo-Marie Burt explained to the Court the State’s many shortcomings in addressing the human rights violations stemming from the armed conflict; whereas Pedro Mateo, one of the victims’ son, recalled the circumstances in which his father was forcibly disappeared and the trauma it has caused to him and the other families. Guatemala failed to offer the Court satisfactory explanations regarding the excessive delays and lack of concrete results in the investigations.

We trust that the inter-American Court can offer reparations to the victims that mitigate the many damages suffered in the past 34 years, and can assist them in finding justice, even if delayed.