On October 22nd, local media reported that Guatemala’s Constitutional Court had opened the door to amnesty to former president Efraín Ríos Montt by ordering the trial judge to rule on why she accepts or refuses Ríos Montt’s request for amnesty.
Hivos partner the Center for Human Rights and Legal Action (CALDH) reaffirmed that amnesty cannot be granted to those convicted of genocide and crimes against humanity.
“The Constitutional Court has surprised the Guatemalan people again. This is an attempt to justify a possible amnesty for José Efraín Ríos Montt, who was already convicted of genocide and crimes against humanity,” said CALDH in a statement.
The defense based its petition for amnesty on the 1986 general amnesty, which prevents the prosecution of acts committed during the internal armed conflict. CALDH claims that a national statute – the Reconciliation Law of 1996 – excludes all crimes of genocide, torture, enforced disappearance and other international crimes from any form of amnesty.
“With such a decision, Guatemala’s authorities would destroy, with one signature, decades of progress when it comes to justice for the tens of thousands of people who died and were disappeared during the dark years of the conflict,” said Sebastian Elgueta, Guatemala researcher at Amnesty International.
On May 10th, Guatemala’s former dictator was sentenced to 80 years of prison on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. Ten days after the sentence, the Constitutional Court overturned the conviction citing irregularities.
Hivos is very proud of the commitment of our partners CALDH and AJR (the Association of Justice and Reconciliation), who have been fighting for justice for the victims of Ríos Montt for over 13 years.