Tackling Impunity in Guatemala
Relatives of massacre victims held demonstrations outside the court.
A survivor of the 1982 Las Dos Erres massacre giving testimony.
Applause rang through the court after after the verdict.
In Guatemala, justice in the wake of civil war atrocities has seemed no more than a fond hope—but with the help of the DFAIT’s Stabilization and Reconstruction Task Force (START) and Lawyers Without Borders Canada (LWBDC), based in Quebec City, a ray of hope has emerged for victims and their families seeking justice for war crimes.
LWBC trains Guatemalan judges, prosecutors, Human Rights lawyers and created the first law office specialized in litigation of the most important serious crimes cases, offering free legal assistance to the most vulnerable groups, including women and indigenous people. Since 2009, LWBC and its local partners have supported 34 strategic litigation cases and provided assistance to 1179 people, 1055 families and 41 communities.
Last August, in a Guatemala City courtroom, four former soldiers were each sentenced to more than 6,000 years of imprisonment for the 1982 massacre of 201 victims in the village of Las Dos Erres, plus an additional 30 years for crimes against humanity. The villagers had been shot or bludgeoned to death and their bodies thrown into a well.
“We want to help Guatemalans have confidence in their justice institutions. We want to see precedent-setting legal processes that demonstrate that the rule of law can be effectively applied.”
– Nadine Khoury, START's program analyst for Central America
“Guatemalans are feeling more confident day by day. When we see the end of impunity, we know we can begin to move forward, can begin to build a real future.”
– Monica Izaguirre, Canadian Embassy in Guatemala
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