“Most Dangerous Country” may be the least desirable title in the world and yet the one that Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala often battle for, leading to thousands of people from Central America’s northern triangle seeking refuge in other countries, including the United States. Aid being provided to those countries has focused almost solely on security, not on strengthening the rule of law and thus human rights, the weaknesses that make these countries vulnerable to violence.
By raising the possibility that an outdated amnesty decree could apply to a former military leader’s genocide charges, Guatemala’s Constitutional Court is not merely going against the country’s own laws, but also breaching the widely accepted if still nascent norm of international human rights law that prohibits amnesties for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
On July 31st, the Guatemala City offices of Frank La Rue, the Special Rapporteur of the United Nations for Freedom of Opinion and Expression, and the Central Institute for the Study of Social Democracy (DEMOS) were both broken into. While the motivation and identity of the individuals responsible remain unclear, these break-ins follow a series of public threats made against human rights defenders in recent weeks. Freedom House welcomes the announcement that Guatemalan authorities are opening an investigation into the incident and urges them to bring those responsible to justice.