Rule of law

Attacks against human rights lawyer in Guatemala

Who we wrote to

The president of Guatemala, Jimmy Morales.

What’s the issue

Since 2013, we understand that Mr Pedro Rafael Maldonado Flores, a human rights lawyer and director of the legal department at Centro de Accion Legal Ambiental y Social de Guatemala (CALAS), has been subjected to acts of intimidation, smear campaigns and judicial harassment.

In 2013 Mr Maldonado Flores was also named in defamatory newspaper articles and in April 2013 his house was broken into several times. In 2015 he received various death threats and in July 2015 shots were fired at the CALAS offices.

In January 2016, Mr Maldonado Flores was targeted by the Fundación Contra el Terrorismo, which brought charges against him for alleged crimes such as:

  • discrimination
  • threats
  • aggravated theft
  • coercion
  • incitement to crime
  • conspiracy

These threats have continued despite the protection measures granted by the Ministry of Interior in 2015. In the recent attacks, gunshots were fired against a vehicle parked outside Mr Maldonado Flores’ house in Guatemala City.

We understand that other members of CALAS have also been subject to attacks and intimidation in recent years. In November 2016, Jeremey Abraham Barrios Lima was shot by two unidentified assailants on a motorcycle. Mr Barrios subsequently died from his injuries.

What we asked for

We urged the relevant authorities to:

  • establish an independent and thorough investigation into the shots fired outside the house of Mr Maldonado Flores and any other incidents regarding him or his colleagues at CALAS, and bring those responsible to justice
  • guarantee the physical integrity of Mr Maldonado Flores and his colleagues at CALAS
  • make sure that Mr Maldonado Flores and other lawyers and human rights defenders in Guatemala can carry out their professional activities without fear of intimidation or harassment

Timeline

2013 – Mr Maldonado was named in defamatory newspaper articles and his house was broken into several times

May 2015 – Mr Maldonado received a death threat, which was related to work he was carrying out against the activities of a mining company

July 2015 – shots were fired at the CALAS offices

November 2015 – Mr Maldonado received death threats through his Twitter account

December 2015 – Guatemalan Ministry of the Interior ordered protective measures

January 2016 – Mr Maldonado was targeted by the Fundación Contra el Terrorismo

12 November 2016 – Jeremy Abraham Barrios Lima was shot by two unidentified assailants on a motorcycle

3 April 2017 – gunshots were fired at a vehicle parked outside Mr Maldonado’s home in Guatemala City

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