To: Thelma Esperanza Aldana Hernández de López,
Attorney General of the Republic of Guatemala
Dear Attorney General –
I am deeply concerned for the safety of environmental defender and human rights lawyer, Pedro Rafael Maldonado Flores and his colleagues at the Centre for Environmental, Social and Legal Action (CALAS). They have suffered years of increasing threats, harassment, and attacks. In November, 2016, CALAS staff member, Jeremy Barrios Lima, was shot to death in Guatemala City. No one has been arrested or charged with his murder, or for the threats and attacks against Rafael Maldonado and his colleagues.
The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders reports that Guatemala is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for environmental defenders and that they frequently experience threats and attacks or are criminalised for their work. CALAS’ staff face serious risks for carrying out their legitimate and important work defending human rights and the environment.
Therefore, Ms. Aldana, I urge you to:
• Take immediate steps to provide full and appropriate protection to Pedro Rafael Maldonado Flores as well as Dr Yuri Giovanni Melini Salguero, the Executive Director of CALAS.
• Capture and bring to justice the material and intellectual authors of Jeremy Barrios Lima’s murder
• Provide CALAS with a full and updated security assessment and permanent protection, including perimeter security patrols and an officer stationed in the CALAS office during regular working hours
• Take steps to immediately sign and publish the “Instrucción general”, the protocol to investigate attacks against human rights defenders and ensure adequate staffing and resources to carry out the work.
• Publicly condemn the attacks and harassment of CALAS personnel and recognize the important and legitimate work of defenders working on land, territory and environmental issues.
• The human rights office of the President, COPREDEH, must develop, promote and implement effective public policy for the protection of human rights defenders.