Press Release

IACHR Grants Precautionary Measure to Indigenous Families of the Chab’il Ch’och’ Community in Guatemala

February 8, 2018

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Washington, DC - On January 25, 2018, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) decided to grant a precautionary measure to protect the rights to life and personal integrity of indigenous Maya-Q’eqchi’ families from the Chab’il Ch’och’ community in Guatemala, who were allegedly evicted from the area in which they were living in Livingston, Izabal, in October 2017.

After analyzing the available information, the IACHR concluded that the current circumstances in which community members find themselves prove, in principle, their situation to be one of serious risk since irreparable damage is threatening their rights to life and personal integrity.

In reaching its decision, the IACHR took into consideration the fact that community members’ livelihoods were allegedly destroyed during the eviction and that they have not since been allowed access to these. According to the petitioners, some 56 houses, 896 cuerdas of cultivated land (including 224 maize crops) and approximately 1,400 poultry and 112 pigs were burned. The members of the Chab’il Ch’och’ community allegedly do not have access to adequate food or health services and are being exposed to diseases and epidemics, particularly vulnerable groups such as children (including infants), pregnant women, and the elderly. The IACHR noted that Chab’il Ch’och’ community members are being temporarily housed in other communities that are also at risk of eviction and judged that the dispersal of the members of the community would have a significant impact on its cohesion and social fabric.

As a consequence, the IACHR requested that the state of Guatemala adopt the necessary measures to protect the rights to life and personal integrity of indigenous families from the Chab’il Ch’och’ community through culturally appropriate measures that seek to improve, among other things, their sanitary conditions, health, and nutrition, especially for children, women, and the elderly; that it agree on the measures to be taken with the beneficiaries themselves and their representatives, bearing in mind the importance of safeguarding their cultural identity as members of the Maya-Q’eqchi’ community; and that it report on the actions it takes to investigate into the allegations that led to the issuing of this precautionary measure, so as to prevent them from being repeated.

The fact that this precautionary measure has been granted and its adoption by the state does not entail a prejudgment on any petition that may eventually be filed before the inter-American system to allege that the rights protected by the American Convention on Human Rights and other applicable instruments have been violated.

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 and to defend 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. 023/18