Rule of law

Harassment of lawyer in Guatemala

Who we wrote to

The president of the Republic of Guatemala, Jimmy Morales.

What’s the issue

We’re concerned about the harassment and acts of intimidation against Ramón Cadena Rámila, a human rights lawyer and representative of the International Commission of Jurists in Guatemala.

We understand that a group of armed men ransacked Mr Cadena’s house in Guatemala City on 15 August 2016. His family was forced to stand outside while the raid was carried out.

Mr Cadena is a key witness in the trial of former president Efrain Rios Montt, who is being indicted for alleged offences relating to genocide committed during the civil war.

Mr Cadena is also supporting activists in the La Puya community in their stance against an American gold mining company planning to operate in Guatemala despite criticisms of its operations’ legality. 

We’re concerned to hear that attacks against human rights lawyers have intensified since the arrest of former military officers in January 2016 for alleged crimes against humanity.

We condemn the attacks and are concerned that the recent attack to Mr Cadena’s property reflects a pattern of systemic intimidations and harassment carried out against human rights lawyers.

What we asked for

We urged the Guatemalan authorities to make sure that:

  • a thorough investigation is conducted on the search of Mr Cadena’s house so that those responsible are identified and a trial is started into possible violations of Mr Cadena’s human rights and breaches of any relevant domestic criminal laws
  • effective steps are taken by the government to protect lawyers in Guatemala to enable them to carry out their work without fear of intimidation and/or threats
  • an environment more favourable to the promotion of human rights for all in Guatemala is put in place

Timeline

January 2016 – former military officers are arrested for alleged crimes against humanity

August 2016 – Mr Cadena’s home is raided by armed men

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