GUATEMALA:
STOP TARGETING LAND DEFENDERS

Tell Guatemala to protect, not criminalize, people who defend the environment.

Community leader Ermitaño Reyes López   

Call on the Attorney General of Guatemala to stop criminalizing those who defend the environment 

 

LAND AND ENVIRONMENT DEFENDERS DESERVE PROTECTION NOT PRISON

Bernardo Ermitaño López is community leader from northern Guatemala. In June 2015 he was arrested, charged and jailed for more than a year. His crime? He attended a public demonstration in defence of his community against the threats posed by a hydro-electric project.

Throughout Guatemala, land and environment defenders face arrest warrants, trumped-up charges and jail time for protesting mines and hydroelectric projects. Among these defenders are women, elders and youth.

CALL ON GUATEMALA TO STOP THE ATTACKS!

Whole communities can be affected when their ancestral authorities are jailed and attacked for speaking out against powerful corporate actors. Several community leaders in have been brutally killed or injured in attacks since 2012. Despite the threat of prison – or worse – they continue their work of defending their land from projects that will affect their livelihoods and lives.

Speak out for courageous people risking their lives and freedom to defend their communities and the environment. Tell Guatemala to stop laying charges against peaceful defenders and investigate attacks against them.


Learn more:
Read Amnesty's report on land defenders in Honduras and Guatemala

 
 
 
 
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Dear Attorney General, 

Rigoberto Juárez, Arturo Pablo, Francisco Juan, Domingo Baltazar, Adalberto Villatoro, Ermitaño López and Mynor López were arrested for their peaceful opposition to a hydroelectric project in their community in northern Huehuetenango. They spent at least 1.5 years in prison while facing trial. They were released in July 2016, but two of them still have charges against them.

Almost all community and Indigenous authorities in the town of Santa Eulalia, Huehetenango have arrest warrants as a result of their participation in non-violent protests against the project. Among these defenders are women, elders and youth. 

Facing charges like these, which are often thrown out of court for lack of proof, is extremely difficult for defenders and their loved ones. The practice of criminalizing peaceful environmental and land defenders must stop and their legitimate role in society must be recognized. 

I respectfully urge you to: 

- Stop opening meritless investigations and criminal processes against land and environment rights defenders. 

- Effectively investigate the security incidents and attacks reported by land and environment rights defenders, particularly in the North of Huehuetenango. 

- Recognize publicly the legitimacy and importance of land and environment rights defenders in Guatemala. 



Sincerely,

 



  

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
   
 
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