Press Release

IACHR Grants Precautionary Measures to Protect Justice Operators in Guatemala

October 28, 2019

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued Resolution 55/2019 on October 23, 2019, to grant precautionary protection measures in favor of Judge Érika Lorena Aifán Dávila in Guatemala . Further, on October 25, 2019, the IACHR issued Resolution 56/2019 in favor of Constitutional Court magistrates José Francisco de Mata Vela, Bonerge Amílcar Mejía Orellana, José Mynor Par Usen, and María Cristina Fernández. In both cases, the Commission has considered that beneficiaries face a serious, urgent risk of suffering irreparable damage to their rights.

When making these decisions, the Commission took into consideration that beneficiaries are allegedly facing a series of pressures, acts of harassment and retaliation, and threats to their rights in connection with their involvement in certain cases that have had a high profile in the media, especially given the Guatemalan context. In particular, the Commission stressed the existence of an alleged smear campaign on social media and the hostility that was encouraged against them, among other forms of interference with their work as a judge and as magistrates.

Beyond stressing the apparent lack of more concrete measures to reduce hostility against these beneficiaries and of strategies to provide institutional support to their efforts, the Commission considered that—based on the information submitted by the parties—this judge and these magistrates remained seriously at risk, particularly given progress in the cases they were working on and a potential increase in attacks against them.

Consequently, in keeping with Article 25 of its Rules of Procedure, the Commission asked the State of Guatemala to adopt any measures necessary to protect beneficiaries’ rights to life and personal integrity; to take any measures necessary to ensure that beneficiaries can do their work as a judge and as magistrates without being subjected to threats, harassment, or fear for doing that work; to come to an agreement with beneficiaries and their representatives regarding any measures that need to be taken; and to report on any actions taken to investigate the alleged events that gave rise to the adoption of this resolution, to prevent such events from happening again in the future.

The fact that this precautionary measure has been granted and its adoption by the State do not entail a prejudgment on a potential petition that may be filed before the Inter-American system to allege violations of rights protected by the American Convention on Human Rights and other applicable instruments.

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. 276/19