International Humanist and Ethical Union
37th Session of the UN Human Rights Council (26 February to 23 March 2018)
Whilst we warmly welcome, since its last review, the positive steps taken by Guatemala in the protection and promotion of human rights, we would like to point out that important human rights challenges still remain.
Guatemala has one of the highest inequality rates in Latin America. Indigenous peoples continue to be victims of racial discrimination, inequality and exclusion. They suffer from high levels of poverty, illiteracy, malnutrition, maternal-child mortality, and a lack of participation in national and local decision-making. Accordingly, we commend Guatemala’s acceptance of several recommendations concerning the discrimination of indigenous peoples. However, we are disappointed to read of Guatemala’s rejection to implement a legal framework for further recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights regarding their traditional homelands and their natural resources, and to participate in the decision-making processes on those matters concerning them.
Guatemala remains one of the most dangerous countries in the world for women and girls, having one of the highest rates of femicide in the world. Sexual and gender-based violence and human trafficking are widespread. The 2008 Femicide Law, including the establishment of local prosecutors for femicide offences, is an important step, but government authorities must have the determination and the resources to carry them out by punishing violators. Consequently, we commend Guatemala for accepting recommendations aimed at protecting women and providing them with equal rights.
Whilst Guatemala is currently developing a public policy to better protect human rights defenders and journalists, they continue to face threats, attacks, stigmatization and criminalization. Freedom of expression is essential to a functional democracy and keeping a check on power and abuse. We call on the authorities of Guatemala to urgently strengthen protection measures and safeguard human rights activities and are glad to read of Guatemala’s support of numerous recommendations in this regard.
Violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons is widespread in Guatemala. The rights of LGBTI communities are neither recognised nor defended by the legal system, allowing their violation to continue with impunity. We are utterly disappointed by Guatemala’s reluctant stance regarding all recommendations aimed at penalizing hate crimes and crimes of intolerance based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression and at ensuring equal respect to their human rights.
'UPR Statement on Guatemala', Humanists International