The Genocide Case has been stalled, and is at risk of being annulled. Please act now to make a historic stand in solidarity with the Ixil people and all Guatemalans who seek justice today for a better tomorrow!
Over the last month, over 100 Ixil Mayan survivors of genocide have risked their lives to testify against former Guatemalan Head of State Efraín Ríos Montt and his Chief of Intelligence, José Rodríguez Sánchez for crimes against humanity committed in the 1980s. Victim after victim took the stand and recounted stories of horrific brutality including bloody massacres, torture, rape, displacement, and wholesale destruction for the simple “crime” of being Mayan.
However, just as the trial reached its final days, the trial has screeched to a halt. A lower-level judge, while ruling on a legal challenge filed in 2011, unexpectedly declared the entire process null and void, and demanded that the trial start over from the very beginning. The decision was audaciously illegal and threatens to unravel all the advances made towards justice, remembrance, and reconciliation.
The fate of the genocide case now rests with the Guatemalan Constitutional Court. Five justices hold the power to put the trial back on track and let justice have its day. However, if they uphold the illegal ruling of Judge Flores – or simply stay silent until next week – the trial will be automatically annulled.
Please join GHRC in asking the Constitutional Court to take action to defend the rule of law and ensure the trial can run its course.
Esteemed Justices of the Constitutional Court:As members of the international community, we have been following with great interest the trial of General Efraín Ríos Montt and General José Rodríguez Sánchez on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.We see this trial as the beginning of a new day for Guatemala, where the voices of the victims of the armed conflict are finally being heard, and the wall of historic impunity is beginning to crumble.
Over 100 witnesses and dozens of experts have given their testimonies and the presiding judges have acted in strict compliance with the rule of law throughout the hearings.
We were therefore shocked to learn of the illegal decision of Judge Patricia Flores to annul the trial. To ask that the survivors of humanity’s most horrific crimes repeat their testimonies would itself be an act of re-victimization.
As Justices of the Constitutional Court, you alone have the power to guarantee justice, to allow the truth to be told and heard, and to lead the nation towards justice and reconciliation. Your decision will stand as a symbol of the strength and independence of Guatemala’s judiciary.
Please guarantee due process, the rule of law, and the right of the Ixil people to have their day in court. We call upon you, as the highest authorities of the Guatemalan justice system and defenders of constitutional rights, to allow this trial to resume and for the judges to rule on the evidence presented.