NEWS FLASH AND UPDATE

From The GUATEMALA HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION/USA

Summer greetings! In the last couple of months, a lot has happened regarding Guatemala that you should be aware of. Please read below to find out more about our recent delegation to Guatemala, how you can help stem violence against women in Guatemala, the passage of the CICIG, upcoming Guatemalan elections, and much more. As always, for more up-to-date information on Guatemala, please visit GHRC’s website at www.ghrc-usa.org.

GHRC’s Delegation to Guatemala: In the end of July we completed a very successful eight-day, fact-finding delegation to Guatemala to learn more about the increasing violence against women, particularly the brutal killings of women and girls, and to pressure the Guatemalan government to do a better job in investigating, prosecuting, and preventing these crimes. Nine of us, from all over the US and from a variety of disciplines, heard the aching stories of parents who lost their daughters. We listened to their struggle for justice. We met with women’s organizations and women’s leaders that accompany survivors of gender-based abuse. We even met with Guatemalan authorities responsible for the investigations and prosecutions of the killings of women and other gender-based crimes. Their callous attitude of blaming the victim and asking for our understanding that changes “don’t happen over night”, despite 3,200 women murdered in seven years and fewer than twenty convictions, made us even more resolute in the need for increased international pressure. Please be on the look out for GHRC’s full “2007 Delegation Reflection” coming soon.

How You Can Help Stem Violence Against Women in Guatemala: Time and again during our recent fact-finding delegation, we heard pleas for continued international solidarity and pressure. To bolster that support, we are asking you to contact your Senators today and encourage them to cosponsor Senate Resolution 178. S.Res.178 offers condolences to the victims’ families, but also urges Guatemalan authorities to do a better job of investigating, prosecuting, and preventing these crimes. It really is easy and will only take you seven minutes.

Just click here to read the full Urgent Action and follow the sample phone call. Our goal is to get more than 25 Senators cosponsoring the Resolution. So far, only six have agreed to endorse the legislation. Please call your Senators today and ask them to take a stand for Guatemalan women.

Guatemalan Congress Approves the CICIG: Amidst international pressure from local and international human rights organizations like GHRC, the US government, the European Union, and the United Nations, the Guatemalan Congress approved the implementation of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) on August 1. The UN-led Commission will have an initial two-year life span and will attempt to determine the nature, structure and modus operandi of clandestine groups and organized crime rings, as well as dismantle their supporting structures, bring their participants to justice, and prevent future attacks on human rights defenders and the society at large. These criminal structures have undermined the rule of law for far too long in Guatemala. We salute Guatemalan lawmakers for approving the initiative; nevertheless, we remain cautiously optimistic and vigilant of its implementation. We will continue to monitor the CICIG and make sure that it does not result in an empty, bureaucratic entity, but rather truly fulfills the mission it was designed to accomplish. HYPERLINK “http://www.ghrc-usa.org/Resources/2007/CICIGPassed.htm” Click here to read more about the passage of the CICIG.

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