Annulment cause for enormous concern, right to truth and justice snatched from Guatemala’s indigenous peoples
Minority Rights Group
22 May 2013
The overturning of the genocide conviction of former military ruler Efrain Rios Montt by Guatemala’s Constitutional Court is cause for enormous concern, says Minority Rights Group International (MRG).
On 10 May, Rios Montt was convicted of ordering the deaths of 1,771 people of the Ixil Maya ethnic group during his 17 months in office between 1982 and 1983. It was the first time, anywhere in the world, that a former head of state was put on trial for genocide by a national court.
‘The sentence of genocide against Rios Montt was cause for hope and jubilation for Ixil Maya and all indigenous people in Guatemala, yet the annulment means that the right to justice and reparation has now been snatched from their grasp,’ says Chris Chapman, MRG’s Head of Conflict Prevention.
Although many details of the annulment remain unclear, the Constitutional Court’s judgment re-sets the trial to 19 April, meaning those indigenous survivors and victims’ families who gave evidence about the systematic human rights violations committed against them during Rios Montt’s rule, such as rape, forced displacement and torture, will now face a harrowing return to court.
‘This ruling of the Constitutional Court shows the weakness in Guatemala’s justice system, which bends to the pressure of military and business interests and continues to serve the rich and powerful,’ says KAJI B’ATZ’, an indigenous youth organisation from the Sololá area of the country. (…)