IACHR

Press Release

IACHR Takes Case Involving Guatemala to the Inter-American Court

September 28, 2016

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María Isabel Rivero
IACHR Press and Communication Office
Tel: +1 (202) 370-9001
mrivero@oas.org

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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) filed an application with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Case 11.550 Maurilia Coc Max and others (Xaman Masacre), with regard to Guatemala.

The case is related to the massacre perpetrated by the Armed Forces of Guatemala on October 5, 1995, against eleven persons, including three children, who belonged to the q’eqchi’, mam, q’anjob’al, ixil and k’iche indigenous peoples, in Xaman. The persons had been refugees in Mexico due to the severe violations to human rights committed during the internal armed conflict. In the same events, 29 persons were injured, three of whom died because of their injuries. Concerning the investigations, the Commission determined that while the case was in the knowledge of the military penal justice, the State did not comply with its obligation of investigating with independence and impartiality. Furthermore, the Commission determined that although the judicial authorities of Guatemala condemned 14 members of the Armed Forces due to these events, deficiencies and irregularities that constitute violations to the duty of investigating with due diligence and in a reasonable time were noticed during the process. The Commission also concluded that the State did not comply with its obligation to remove the obstacles generated by the threats and harassment actions against several persons involved in the process. Finally, the Commission determined that the events constituted an expression of the racial discrimination against the Mayan community during the armed conflict in Guatemala.

In the Merits Report, the Commission recommended Guatemala to provide integral reparations for the violations of human rights found in the report, in the material, moral and cultural aspects, including a fair compensation, measures of satisfaction to recover the memory of the victims, public recognition of the responsibility of the State, as well as rehabilitation measures through the implementation of a program of physical and mental and/or psychosocial health, in a culturally adequate manner, to the survivors and the victims’ families. Moreover, the Commission recommended the State to adopt the relevant measures to prevent similar events from occurring again in the future. These measures must include the implementation of permanent programs of human rights and humanitarian international law in the schools where the Armed Forces are trained, the strengthening of the institutional capacity to investigate severe violations to human rights occurred during the internal armed conflict and the adoption of efficient mechanisms to put an end to the threats and harassment against judicial officers, victims and witnesses in the context of the investigations.

The Inter-American Commission submitted the case to the Inter-American Court on September 21, 2016, because it considered that Guatemala did not comply with the recommendations of the Merits Report.

This case reflects the situation faced by indigenous families when they returned to Guatemala after being displaced by the armed conflict. Specifically, the massacre committed in the mentioned case is another expression of the effect of the genocide against Mayan indigenous peoples during the armed conflict, as well as of the continuity of underlying ethnic discrimination.

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. 142/16