Press Release

IACHR Values Derogation of Governmental Resolution 370-2012 in Guatemala

January 18, 2013

Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) values the derogation of Governmental Resolution No. 370-2012 in Guatemala, which had been published on January 2, 2013.

The derogated Governmental Resolution No. 370-2012 referred to the declaration made by Guatemala in 1987 when it ratified the American Convention on Human Rights, to the effect that it accepted the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights only for events that took place after March 9, 1987. The Resolution had as its purpose to specify that “in the case of continuing events or crimes, the principle of execution or original conduct must have taken place after the recognition of said jurisdiction, on March 9, 1987.” The Resolution also indicated that “Guatemala shall recognize all reparations that may be imposed by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights for events submitted to it, that had occurred exclusively after March 9, 1987, and for amounts or forms of reparations not to exceed those provided in the domestic legal regime, respecting the guarantee of equality contained in the Political Constitution of the Republic of Guatemala.”

The Resolution had been roundly criticized by human rights organizations. On announcing its derogation, President Otto Perez stated: “we are capable of recognizing where there are things that may affect us and rectify them.” Similarly, he noted that the decision showed a willingness to be open to dialogue. The IACHR recognizes the gesture by the State of Guatemala.

In accordance with the principles of pacta sunt servanda and non-retroactivity, the Inter-American Court has jurisdiction to review acts or events that took place after the recognition of its jurisdiction and which have generated violations of human rights. Similarly, the Court has jurisdiction to review those events that constitute continuing or permanent violations, that is, those that took place before the entry into force of the treaty and which persist after that date, for example cases of forced disappearance. Moreover, the Inter-American Court has repeatedly established that, pursuant to article 63.1 of the American Convention, it has the mandate to ensure that the consequences of human rights violations are repaired in accordance with international standards.

The IACHR notes that this decree was derogated following a process of dialogue between the Executive and human rights defenders. The IACHR notes with concern that some reactions to the derogation have characterized the work of civil society organizations and State entities in favor of human rights as “terrorist.” In this sense, the IACHR reiterates that the work of human rights defenders requires measures of respect and protection; threats against the work of human rights defenders affect not only their rights but the fundamental role they play within the society.

The State of Guatemala, within it sovereignty, freely committed itself to respect and guarantee the rights contained in the American Convention on Human Rights, and the Commission recognizes the derogation of Governmental Resolution 370-2012 as a positive step, consistent with those expressions of commitment to respect human rights.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 5/13