Increased repression and political persecution

Situation of individuals, organizations and communities that defend human rights

January to June 2022

Since 2021, the Unit for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders -Guatemala (UDEFEGUA) has expressed its concern about the deteriorating political, economic and social environment to which the government of Alejandro Giammattei has subjected the Guatemalan population in general, and the political violence against individuals, organizations and communities engaged in the defense of human rights.

The current government of the Republic has consolidated a series of actions that move us towards the restoration of the authoritarian state and away from the national objective of establishing peace, social justice and equity. Serious declines in democratic human rights include: inattention to populations affected by the Covid 19 pandemic; dismantling institutional support for peace and human rights; decreased resources for the guarantee of basic rights such as health, education, and food; rampant corruption; ruined economic and production infrastructure; and deterioration of living conditions among the populace.

From January to June of this year, UDEFEGUA has registered a total of 589 attacks against individuals, organizations and communities defending human rights, which represents a persistence of violence throughout Alejandro Giammatei’s presidential term. UDEFEGUA’s records show that in only two and a half years of the current administration, the number of attacks far exceeds all previous administrations.

During the two and a half years of Giammatei’s government, a total of 2,646 attacks have been registered, versus 2,260 during the term of Pérez Molina or the 1,642 attacks during the prior government of Jimmy Morales, as a clear demonstration and manifestation of the increase in repression and political persecution against those who defend human rights in the country. It is important to note the high rates of misogyny observed in this violence; criminalization of and political persecution against woman human rights defenders form an important part of the government’s repression policies. Forty-five percent of all attacks during the first half of 2022 have been directed against justice workers, journalists, and/or woman human rights defenders in general.

According to UDEFEGUA’s records, it can be observed that justice workers, journalists, social communicators, land defenders and students are the most affected groups in this climate of political violence in the country. The defense of human rights, justice and equity is violated through extensive criminalization processes by a justice system co-opted by mafias and agents linked to corruption and lawlessness.

To confront this context of repression and political persecution, it is necessary that Guatemalan society, through its organizations, social and popular movements, and citizen collectives, organize and begin coordination processes.

Guatemala, August 25, 2022

Read the complete note in spanish here: