Media Center



  March 27, 2008

Washington, D.C., March 27, 2008 — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses its great satisfaction over the presidential veto of legislation that would have allowed the death penalty to be reinstated in Guatemala.

On March 14, the President of Guatemala approved an executive order vetoing the law passed by the Congress that would have allowed death sentences to be carried out. The argument was that the process of implementing the death penalty was abolished by the National Legislative Assembly on May 11, 2000, and therefore it is not possible to reinstate the implementation of the penalty, even though it continues to exist in the country’s penal code. Thus, any provision that would reestablish the process of carrying out the death penalty in Guatemala would violate the American Convention on Human Rights. Article 4, paragraph 3, of the Convention indicates: “The death penalty shall not be reestablished in states that have abolished it.”

The Inter-American Commission values the fact that this veto was based on the obligation to respect the right to life enshrined in the Constitution of Guatemala and the American Convention on Human Rights.

Without prejudice to the veto, 25 individuals in Guatemala are currently facing death sentences. On March 25, the IACHR asked the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to adopt protection measures for these individuals, as well as for those who could be sentenced to death in the future. The IACHR requested these measures as long as the State of Guatemala does not resolve the incompatibility between the current regulation of the death penalty and the American Convention.

Press contact: María Isabel Rivero
Tel. (202) 458-3867
Cell: (202) 215-4142

Reference: IACHR11/08