53rd Session of the UN Human Rights Council (19 June 2023 to 14 July 2023)
Item 6: Universal Periodic Review – Guatemala
In the years since Guatemala’s last review, the situation of journalists and human rights defenders has worsened significantly, with an increase in attacks on those critical of the authorities or investigating corruption and human rights violations. [Many have been subjected to social media smear campaigns, surveillance by the state, police harassment and criminalisation.]1 Accordingly, we were pleased to see Guatemala support most recommendations in this area.
Recent years have seen serious democratic backsliding in Guatemala; the ongoing removal of judicial independence and checks on executive power, and the erosion of separation between church and state (Estado Laico) has resulted in a dramatic decrease in democratic accountability and electoral integrity. We note with serious concern that Guatemala has not supported key recommendations on safeguarding juridical independence.
Violence against LGBTI+ persons has remained a persistent issue. [Last year, it was reported that between January to September 21 LGBTI+ people were murdered, and 32 in the previous year.2 There is no law that protects LGBTI+ people from discrimination or hate crimes based on their sexual orientation or gender identity in Guatemala. We were deeply disappointed to see Guatemala not support a recommendation to take measures to guarantee equality for LGBTI+ people].3
We note with concern that Guatemalas has rejected all recommendations to decriminalize abortion. Adolescent and child pregnancy is widespread. In 2021 alone, an estimated 70,000 girls aged 15 to 19 and 2,000 aged ten to 14 gave birth.4 Many of these pregnancies will have been the result of sexual abuse.5 We urge the government to follow other countries in the region, such as Colombia6 and Mexico7 in decriminalizing abortion.
Finally, during its last review Guatemala promised follow-up on the death of 41 vulnerable teenage girls in care of the state at the Virgen de Asuncion shelter.8 Yet six years on there is still no justice. Can the delegation shed some light on this?
3 A/HRC/53/9, §90.202; A/HRC/53/9/Add.1
5 https://lac.unwomen.org/en/donde-estamos/guatemala, https://gt.usembassy.gov/guatemala-2022-human-rights-report/, https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/5050/women-battle-guatemalas-new-anti-abortion-and-anti-lgbt-law/
'Statement on Guatemala's Universal Periodic Review (2023)', Humanists International