Minister Ablonczy Announces Assistance to Prosecute Serious Crimes in Guatemala

December 6, 2012 - The Honourable Diane Ablonczy, Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas and Consular Affairs), was at Guatemala’s Archivo Histórico de la Policía Nacional [national police historic archive] today to inaugurate new facilities built for the centre with Government of Canada support. Minister Ablonczy was accompanied by His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada.

“Perpetrators of serious crimes committed in Guatemala in the past are no longer beyond the reach of the law,” said Minister Ablonczy. “Canada is proud to participate in the effort to prosecute the authors of these crimes and to support the victims. Canada has been a dependable partner in Guatemala’s efforts to bring closure on past violations and in helping Guatemalans build a more peaceful and prosperous society.”

This project, one component of Canada’s overarching commitment to strengthen justice in Guatemala, has supported the construction of new access-to-information rooms for the archives. It has been implemented by Lawyers Without Borders Canada, a Canadian non-governmental organization working with Guatemalan human rights lawyers and civil society organizations to bolster the country’s judicial and security sectors. The project is supported through the Global Peace and Security Fund (GPSF) and contributes to strengthening the capacity of Guatemalan civil society and justice operators to prosecute authors of serious crimes that occurred during the 36-year internal armed conflict, which ended in 1996.

This contribution is part of Canada’s foreign policy priority of deepening engagement in the Americas and, specifically, its goal of strengthening security and institutions while assisting Central America in implementing its Regional Security Strategy.

Minister Ablonczy is in Guatemala as part of a Canadian delegation, led by the Governor General, which is travelling to Mexico, Peru and Guatemala. The delegation is advancing Canada’s ongoing engagement in the Americas—a foreign policy priority since 2007—and its three goals of increasing economic opportunity, strengthening security and institutions and fostering lasting relationships.

For more information, please consult Minister Ablonczy Announces Initiatives to Reinforce Security and Justice in Guatemala, Canada Committed to Peace, Justice and Security in Guatemala and Governor General to Undertake Visits to Mexico, Peru and Guatemala.

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A backgrounder follows.

For further information, media representatives may contact:

Joshua Zanin
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas and Consular Affairs)

Foreign Affairs Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
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Backgrounder - Strengthening Legal Representation for Strategic Human Rights Litigation—Lawyers Without Borders

This project provides Canadian accompaniment, direct legal assistance and training to Guatemalan judges, prosecutors, human rights lawyers and human rights organizations in order to increase access to legal representation for vulnerable groups, to strengthen the capacity of the Guatemalan judicial system, to advance emblematic legal processes for serious crimes and to prosecute the authors of such crimes. The new access-to-information rooms of the national police historic archive were funded through this project, which is being implemented by Lawyers Without Borders Canada. Funding for the archives’ new facilities comes from an additional $1.2 million from the Global Peace and Security Fund for the overarching project being delivered by Lawyers Without Borders Canada. The value of the newly inaugurated facilities is $25,500.