Joint Civil Society Statement
UN Human Rights Council 52nd Session (Geneva, 27 February – 4 April 2023)
Item 2: General Debate on the report of the High Commissioner – Guatemala (8 March 2023)
Guatemala is facing a human rights and rule of law crisis, aggravated by the weakening and co-optation of public institutions. There is widespread harassment and criminalisation of human rights defenders, with more than 2.000 attacks documented in 2022. In a statement supported by over 50 civil society organisations, CIDSE called on the Council to use its preventive role before the situation reaches a point of no return and to urge Guatemala to guarantee judicial independence, to prevent and investigate attacks against human rights defenders and justice operators, and to guarantee a transparent electoral process.
“We welcome the report on the activities of the Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR) in Guatemala, especially in a context of human rights and the rule of law crisis, aggravated by the weakening and co-optation of public institutions.
In Guatemala, there is a widespread practice of criminalization and harassment of human rights defenders and independent justice operators, many of whom are currently in exile or in prison. According to UDEFEGUA, the number of attacks in 2022 rose to more than two thousand cases, which represents double compared to 2020 and 2021; and four times higher than in 2019. The lack of public policies to protect defenders and the issuance of restrictive laws such as Decree 4-2020, which regulates NGOs, have fostered a hostile environment for the defense of human rights.
In addition, there has been an excessive and disproportionate use of force in contexts of peaceful protests and forced evictions, sometimes under the use of states of emergency, without observing international standards.
The Council must act collectively and act now to urge Guatemala to guarantee judicial independence, to prevent and investigate attacks against human rights defenders and justice operators, and to guarantee a transparent electoral process. Today more than ever, this Council must use its preventive role before the human rights situation in Guatemala reaches a point of no return.”
 Cfr. Situación de personas, comunidades y organizaciones defensoras de derechos humanos, enero-septiembre, 2020, https://udefegua.org.gt/infografias/situacion-de-personas-comunidades-y-organizaciones-defensoras-de-ddhh-guatemala-enero-a-septiembre-de-2020/
 “The contribution of the Human Rights Council to the prevention of human rights violations”, Resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council on 7 October 2020, https://undocs.org/en/A/HRC/RES/45/31; “The contribution of the Human Rights Council to the prevention of human rights violations”, Resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council on 6 July 2018, https://undocs.org/en/A/HRC/RES/38/18; See also Resolution adopted by the General Assembly, “Human Rights Council” 60/251, para. 5 (f), https://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/a.res.60.251_en.pdf; “Overview of consultations on the contribution of the Human Rights Council to the prevention of human rights violations”, Human Rights Council, Report of the rapporteurs, A/HRC/43/37, 14 January 2020, https://undocs.org/en/A/HRC/43/37