Hivos Partner the Guatemalan Human Rights Defenders Protection Unit, UDEFEGUA, won the 2013 Alice Zachmann Award given by the Guatemalan Human Rights Commission (GHRC).
The Alice Zachmmann Human Rights Defender Award recognizes an individual, organization or community who has demonstrated a commitment to the defense of human rights through non-violent methods, and for which he or she has been exposed to threats, violence or other attacks.
UDEFEGUA was awarded for its work to investigate, document and denounce abuses, and accompany human rights defenders throughout the process. Their aim is to protect defenders, so they can continue to carry out they work in an increasingly difficult and hostile environment.
“ (..) We are a team of “firefighters” rushing to be present with human rights defenders in their moments of need…Whether they are submitting an official document, looking for a missing person, identifying a corpse, imprisoned or awaiting release, attending a medical appointment, evaluating risk, or facing the justice system. We accompany their families in times of uncertainty and fear, and make sure that their children are not left unprotected. We stand in solidarity with defenders, be it to mourn a defeater or to celebrate a victory,” said Claudia Samayoa, coordinator of UDEFEGUA, who accepted the award on behalf of the organization.
UDEFEGUA was founded in 2004 with the objective of promoting the security of human rights defenders in Guatemala and to contribute to the protection of the political space in which they work. In addition, UDEFEGUA seeks to promote and protect those defending economic, social and cultural rights.
The organization supports mainly activists, men and women, who have become the target of repression, criminalization and stigmatization due to their work in the field of human rights. It advises them about prevention and response to threats and attacks and provides information, training, monitoring and psychological support.
UDEFEGUA is a unique organization in Guatemala. It has been a Hivos partner for over four years and has strengthened other partners of ours throughout Central America on security issues. Its team of 25 people is committed to fighting for truth and the justice in their country.