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Guatemala: Threats and Attacks Against Human Rights Defenders Must Be Investigated

WASHINGTON - Amnesty International today urged the Guatemalan authorities to
immediately and thoroughly investigate attacks against those involved
in opening the country's police archives containing information on
atrocities committed by the security forces during Guatemala's internal
armed conflict.

"The ghosts of the past have no place in Guatemala today," said
Kerrie Howard, Americas Deputy Director at Amnesty International. "The
Guatemalan authorities must ensure that people responsible for the
attacks and threats against those who work to bring to light the abuses
committed during the armed conflict do not get away with it."

Members of the Human Rights Ombudsman's Office involved in the
process that led to the opening of over 12 million archives containing
evidence of human rights abuses committed during Guatemala's internal
armed conflict, some of which amount to crimes against humanity, have
been victims of attacks and threats.

The wife of the Director of the Human Rights Ombudsman's Office has
been kidnapped and tortured. One official has been beaten up, whilst a
number of threats have been made against other officials of the Human
Rights Ombudsman's Office, including a bomb threat and a threat against
the life of the Director of the Office.

Amnesty International believes these attacks and threats have been
made to intimidate the Human Rights Ombudsman's Office and stop them
from carrying out their work. Two former police officers have already
been charged in a case of enforced disappearance as a result of
information uncovered in the archives.

"The opening of the police archives is a huge step towards real
justice in Guatemala," said Kerrie Howard. "The key now is to ensure
that the information is used to deliver justice to thousands of victims
of human rights violations in Guatemala."


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