December 21, 2022, Guatemala City, Guatemala: On December 2, 2022, the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) issued a formal request to the State of Guatemala for information regarding violations of the rights of Indigenous Peoples in that country in accordance with CERD’s Early Warning and Urgent Action (EWUA) Procedure.
The CERD’s request was in response to an urgent action communication submitted by the International Indian Treaty Council (IITC) Guatemala office on October 6, 2022. It reported violent and forced displacement of Q’eqchi’ and Poqomochi’ Mayan Peoples in the departments of Alta and Baja Verapaz, Izabal and Petén. These included the burning of 51 Indigenous families’ homes and violent threats by a group of masked men armed with assault rifles on September 30, 2022 in the Q’eqchi’ Mayan Indigenous community of Xeinup, municipality of El Chal, Department of Peten. It also addressed the continuing criminalization of Indigenous Peoples land rights defenders in Guatemala.
The CERD requested that Guatemala’s response be submitted before April 11, 2023 and contain information about the measures it has taken to promote dialogue-based solutions to resolve conflicts over land and avoid further displacement, violence and human rights violations against Indigenous Peoples. The CERD further requested that Guatemala report on the status of existing mechanisms and its allocation of adequate human and financial resources to ensure protection for Indigenous human rights defenders and to bring those responsible for these violent attacks to justice whether they are state or non-state actors.
IITC’s communications to the CERD’s was developed in close collaboration with the impacted Mayan Peoples as well as group of Indigenous Peoples’ rights organizations in Guatemala. “This achievement and the engagement of CERD in defense of the rights of Indigenous Peoples in this country is a victory for us all” said Dionicio Canahui, Coordinator of IITC’s Guatemala Office.
Guatemala is a State party to the International Convention for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), and, as such, is obligated to protect the Indigenous Peoples of Guatemala from racial discrimination and other human rights violations. This duty is further affirmed in Article 46 of the Political Constitution of the Republic Guatemala.
IITC and the Indigenous Peoples of Guatemala urgently call on Guatemala to abide by its sacred human rights obligations. We also express our appreciation to the CERD for its consistent support of Indigenous Peoples rights and for following up on these cases as examples of ongoing violations suffered by the Indigenous Peoples Guatemala which far too often are carried out with absolute impunity.
For more information please contact IITC’s Office in Guatemala via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at +502 42102584.