Photo: © Prensa Comunitaria
Courageous justice defender unjustly jailed in Guatemala
Virginia Laparra inspired hope as head of the Special Prosecutor’s Unit Against Corruption and Impunity in Quetzaltenango. Now she is behind bars, prevented from championing human rights and working to ensure corrupt authorities are not above the law. The respected prosecutor was arrested on false accusations, unjustly convicted and sentenced to four years in jail.
Amnesty International has determined that Virginia Laparra is a Prisoner of Conscience, jailed solely in retaliation for her work fighting corruption and injustice in Guatemala.
As if this was not enough, Virginia Laparra is on trial again, charged with more false accusations in a system stacked against those who challenge powerful wrongdoers. The mother of two young daughters faces the prospect of more years in prison.
This injustice is taking place amid a dangerous backslide in Guatemala. Journalists, justice officials and human rights defenders are accused of crimes they have not committed and incarcerated. Dozens of others have fled the country to avoid being jailed for their important work to call out criminal behaviour by officials.
International pressure is vital to stop the assault on justice and hope in Guatemala. The release of Virginia Laparra would be a hugely important step in the right direction.