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04GUATEMALA1447 2004-06-10 19:07:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Guatemala
Cable title:  

GUATEMALA: HUMAN RIGHTS UPDATE #4-2004

Tags:   PHUM KCRM KWMN AORC GT 
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					  UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 GUATEMALA 001447 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM KCRM KWMN AORC GT
SUBJECT: GUATEMALA: HUMAN RIGHTS UPDATE #4-2004




1. (U) This message summarizes significant recent
developments relating to human rights, including:

-- Executive Send CICIACS to Court (paras 2-3)

-- Progress on Southcom Human Rights Initiative (4)

-- Human Rights NGOs Speak Out on National Police (5)

-- New Trial in Rio Negro Massacre (6-7)

-- Threats Against Sons of Journalist Killed in Black
Thursday (8)

-- Archbishop's Legal Team Helps Journalist (9)

-- Congress Reviews Proposal for OHCHR Office (10-11)

-- Berger Donates Retreat to At-risk Youth (12)

-- Inter-American HR Court Hears Case on Massacre (13)

-- Threats Against Torres de Colom (14)

Executive Sends CICIACS to Court




2. (U) On May 27, HROff met with Claudia Samayoa, head of
the Coalition to Establish CICIACS (a group of NGOs united to
encourage implementation of the CICIACS agreement), who said
that Political Reform Commissioner Mario Fuentes Destarac and
Human Rights Ombudsman Sergio Morales had held a series of
meetings of the ad-hoc Executive Commission on CICIACS. In
addition to Fuentes Destarac, Interior Minister Arturo Soto
and Vice Minister of Foreign Relations Jorge Skinner-Klee
represented the Executive branch; Helen Mack, Mario Polanco
of the Mutual Support Group (GAM), members of the "Defense of
the Constitution" NGO (CEDECON), and the National Bar
Association participated from civil society. As a result, on
June 6, President Berger submitted twenty questions about the
legality of the current CICIACS agreement to the
Constitutional Court. The questions focus primarily on the
Commission's proposed immunities and privileges (e.g. free
access to government documents and legal immunity of CICIACS
personnel and property), and its ability to prosecute cases
independently without the involvement of the Public Ministry.
The Constitutional Court has an unlimited amount of time to
review the case and issue its opinion.



3. (U) HROff also met with Ombudsman Morales on June 1 to
congratulate the Commission for its quick work. Morales said
he had met with five of the Constitutional Court magistrates
several days before to discuss CICIACS and believed that the
judges would rule that the current CICIACS was constitutional.

Progress on SOUTHCOM Human Rights Initiative




4. (U) MilOff reports that SOUTHCOM and the Center for the
Training of Human Rights (a Costa Rican NGO contracted by
SOUTHCOM to implement its human rights initiative) have
reached agreement with the Guatemalan Ministry of Defense on
the text of a Human Rights Initiative. The MOD is expected
to sign a final document next week after approval by the
President's office.

Human Rights NGOs Speak Out on National Police




5. (U) On June 7, 13 human rights organizations, including
GAM, the Myrna Mack Foundation, and the Rigoberta Menchu
Foundation, placed an advertisement in the daily "Prensa
Libre" expressing concern to President Berger that military
officers who lose their jobs in the army downsizing will
infiltrate the National Civil Police (PNC). The ad asserted
that military personnel's training and experience are at odds
with the mission of the police and that integrating former
soldiers into the PNC would militarize that institution.
They requested that the President develop a plan to
strengthen the PNC by toughening recruitment requirements,
improve training and by increasing political/financial
support for the PNC.

New Trial in Rio Negro Massacre




6. (U) HROff traveled to Rabinal, Baja Verapaz province, on
April 28 to observe an exhumation and meet with ADIVIMA, a
survivors group pushing forward the prosecution of the 1982
Rio Negro Massacre. In 1998, three former militia
("ex-PACs") were convicted of homicide for their
participation in the Rio Negro and Agua Fria massacres,
marking the first conviction of perpetrators of a massacre
since the civil conflict. In February 2003, arrest warrants
were issued for seven more individuals in the same case, with
the help of ADIVIMA. Six of these individuals, all ex-Pacs,
are currently in custody awaiting a August 2004 court date;
retired Army Col. Jose Antonio Solares Gonzalez remains at
large.


7. (U) According to ADIVIMA and Nicolas Garcia, the
prosecutor in charge of the case, the Public Ministry has
been unable to obtain any photographs of Solares Gonzalez
and, although the arrest warrant was issued over a year ago,
the PNC have not searched the officer's last known address in
Guatemala City. If tried, the case would be the first
prosecution of a military official in connection with a
massacre case. ADIVIMA will continue to urge the GOG to act
on the arrest warrant.

Sons of Journalist Killed in Black Thursday Threatened



8. (U) On May 20, David Hernandez Rubio and Hector Ramirez,
the sons of Hector Ramirez, the journalist who died during
the "Black Thursday" demonstrations on July 24-25 2003,
petitioned the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights
(IACHR) for personal protection following a series of
intimidating incidents against their family. The brothers
are currently pressing charges against Gen. (ret.) Rios Montt
and other FRG former Government officials for their father's
death. On May 19, David was attacked and beaten by two men
in Zone 18. Earlier that week, Hector also reported that two
men had interrogated his sister-in-law at his home, that men
in motorcycles had followed another sister-in-law to
university, and that eight individuals had broken into a
property owned by his wife to question residents. Hector
Ramirez told HROff on June 8 that, although a police officer
had been posted at his home, none of the family members were
being accompanied by security during the day. The brothers
have a meeting on June 10 with President's Commission on
Human Rights (COPREDEH), which coordinates GOG action on
IACHR cases, to discuss security measures.

Archbishop's Legal Team Helps Journalist




9. (U) On May 7, the Office of Human Rights of the
Archbishop of Guatemala (ODHAG), petitioned the court to
become a private party to the prosecution of attackers of
prominent newspaper editor Jose Ruben Zamora. Zamora and his
family were sequestered and threatened for several hours on
June 24, 2003. ODHAG,s lawyers allege there are indications
that clandestine security forces participated in the
incident. Two men, one from the PNC and one from the
Presidential Guard, have been detained.

Congress Reviews Proposal for OHCHR Office




10. (U) In mid-June, two Congressional committees will
consider ratifying an agreement with the UN to create of the
Office of the High Commissioner of the United Nations for
Human Rights (OHCHR). The agreement includes annual
monitoring reports on the status of human rights in Guatemala
to be presented to the Congressional Human Rights Commission
and the Hague. The new office would also represent the UN in
Guatemala after MINUGUA closes in December 2004. On
MINUGUA's departure, the Human Rights Ombudsman will take
over all reporting for compliance with the Peace Accords.
The OHCHR office, which has unofficially been open since
January, will also provide information programs and
technical/economic assistance regarding human rights to the
GOG. If the Congress ratifies the agreement, the UN office
will be established for a period of three years, which can be
extended on request from the GOG.



11. (SBU) Both the Human Rights and the Foreign Relations
Committees will make recommendations to the Congressional
plenary on the agreement. On May 15, Birgit Gerstenberg, the
current head the OHCHR office, told HROff that the Human
Rights Commission was then divided 5 to 6 (in opposition) on
the proposal. However, on June 2, Congressional Deputy
Antonio Arenales (FRG) told PolSpecialist he believed the
proposal would pass in both committees due to political
pressure from the Executive. (He remains opposed.)

Berger Donates Retreat to At-Risk Youth




12. (U) On May 24, PolIntern attended a ceremony in which
President Oscar Berger and COPREDEH handed over the
presidential retreat, Finca Santo Tomas, to the Jorge R.
Toruno Foundation for Educational Development to establish a
center for at-risk children. The Alliance for Crime
Prevention (APREDE), supported by USAID, plans to spend one
million USD to transform the retreat into a center that will
provide job training and counseling to 500 ex-gang members
and family members each year.

Inter-American HR Court Hears Case on Massacre



13. (U) The Inter-American Human Rights Court heard the main
arguments of the Plan de Sanchez massacre case, on April 23
and 24. The Guatemalan State is being sued for the 1982
massacre of 268 people, most of them members of a Mayan
indigenous community in the Plan de Sanchez village, in
Rabinal, Baja Verapaz province. Frank LaRue, the
Presidential Commissioner for Human Rights, accepted
responsibility on behalf of the GOG for the massacre during
the hearing.

Threats Against Torres de Colom




14. (U) On April 20, the Inter-American Commission for Human
Rights ordered the GOG to guarantee the protection and safety
of Sandra Torres de Colom, the wife of presidential runner-up
Alvaro Colom. Human Rights Ombudsman Sergio Morales
requested the Commission's support after Torres de Colom
reported receiving several threatening phone calls and had
been subject to surveillance by unknown vehicles in March


2004.
HAMILTON