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.