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Avon Global Center for Women and Justice at Cornell Law School - Green Background

Country Details

Guatemala

  • The cases against Daniel Martinez, Manuel Pop Sun, Reyes Collin Gualip and Lieutenant Carlos Carías, Guatemala, First Tribunal of Criminal Sentencing, Narco-trafficking and Crimes against the Environment, 2011.
    The cases against Daniel Martinez, Manuel Pop Sun, Reyes Collin Gualip and Lieutenant Carlos Carías, First Tribunal of Criminal Sentencing, Narco-trafficking and Crimes against the Environment (Tribunal Primero de Sentencia Penal, Narcoactividad y Delitos contra el Ambiente de Guatemala, 2011. Crimes against humanity, genocide. In 2009, following the decision in the case of the “Las dos Erres” Massacre, the Supreme Court of Justice ordered the State to continue cases against those involved is the massacres perpetrated during Guatemala’s civil war. A case was brought against Daniel Martinez, Manuel Pop Sun, Reyes Collin Gualip and Lieutenant Carlos Carías in the First Tribunal of Criminal Sentencing, Narco-trafficking and Crimes against the Environment in Guatemala. The accused were sentenced to 6,060 years in prison for crimes against humanity, including sexual violations, and the murder of 201 locals from Dos Erres, of which they will each serve the maximum of 50 years. The conviction of four members of Guatemalan Special Forces was a step towards fulfilling the requirements imposed by the Inter-American Court to end impunity in Guatemala. Another Guatemalan ex-Soldier, Pedro Pimental Rios, was sentenced to 6,060 years by a three judge panel after being extradited from the United States just months later on March 12, 2012. He will also serve the maximum sentence in Guatemala, 50 years.
  • Case of the “Las dos Erres” Massacre v. Guatemala, Guatemala, Inter-American Court of Human Rights, 2009.
    Between December 6 and 8, 1982 a specialized group of the Guatemalan armed forces executed 251 members of the “Las Dos Erres” community. Among those killed were women and children. Women and girls, in particular, were raped and subjected to forced abortion. Soldiers beat pregnant women, at times jumping on their stomachs causing miscarriage. The case was brought before the Inter-American Court following the State’s inability or unwillingness to seek justice on behalf of the victims and their next of kin. The case against the State alleged violations of Article 1(1): the obligation to respect the rights enshrined in the American Convention on Human Rights; Article 8: the right to a fair trial; and Article 25: the right to judicial protection and enforcement. The Court held that the investigation carried out by the Guatemalan State was insufficient and that the State has a positive obligation to diligently investigate the facts of a given case. With regard to women’s rights, the Court found that the Convention of Belém do Pará, which requires that states diligently investigate and punish acts of violence against women, applied to the present case even though the Convention was not in effect at the time of the massacre. The Court found that the act of raping women during the conflict was a state practice “directed to destroying the dignity of women at a cultural, social, family and individual level” (Case of the “Las dos Erres” Massacre ¶139). The State’s failure to investigate and punish the crimes committed was held to be a violation of the American Convention and the Convention of Belém do Pará and the Court ordered the State to provide various forms of reparation including: restitution, rehabilitation and guarantees of non-repetition. In addition the Court ordered the State to “locate, prosecute, and punish the masterminds and perpetrators” (Case of the “Las dos Erres” Massacre ¶229), prohibited amnesty and mandated that alleged acts of torture and violence against girls and women, in particular, be investigated.
  • Case of Plan de Sánchez Massacre v. Guatemala, Guatemala, Inter-American Court of Human Rights, 2004.
    On July 18, 1982, special forces murdered 268 people in Plan de Sanchez, Guatemala, predominantly indigenous Mayans. The massacre was part of a broader state policy to counter insurrection that targeted indigenous populations and ravaged communities. During the attack an estimated twenty girls and young women were rounded up, raped and murdered. The remainder of the detainees was killed by grenade and open fire. The representatives of the victims and their next of kin brought suit against the State of Guatemala alleging various violations of the American Convention on Human Rights including Article 1(1): the obligation to respect the rights enshrined in the American Convention on Human Rights, Article 5: the right to humane treatment, Article 8: the right to a fair trial, Article11: the right to privacy, Article 12: the right to freedom of conscience and religion, Article 16: the right to freedom of association, Article 21: the right to property, Article 24: the right to equal protection and Article 25: the right to judicial protection. Guatemala acknowledged the international responsibility of the State and stipulated to the facts of the case before the Inter-American Court. The Court held that, in accordance with the State’s own acknowledgement, Guatemala was in breach the American Convention. With particular regard to Article 24 and 25, the Guatemalan Army abused and raped women and girls of Mayan decent during its genocidal counter-insurgence policy. These women had no recourse to the law. The Court found that the State had aggravated international responsibility for the commission of a State Crime, the commission of which was facilitated by the State’s intention, omission or tolerance during a period of grave human rights violations. The State and its agents, including the Guatemalan Army and civil collaborators, were held responsible for the tragedy that occurred at Plan de Sanchez.
  • Molina-Theissen v. Guatemala, Guatemala, Inter-American Court of Human Rights, 2004.
    This case was submitted to the Court by the IACtHR to determine if human rights violations were committed by Guatemala in relation to the forced disappearance of 14-year old Marco Antonio Molina Thiessen by the Guatemalan army. The Molina Thiessen family was comprised of left-leaning academics and was therefore considered a threat to the military regime in place at the time of the forced disappearance. Prior to child's disappearance, his sister, Emma Guadalupe, was detained and illegally incarcerated, during which time she was repeatedly raped and physically and psychologically tortured. She managed to escape and Marco Antonio's abduction was seen as retaliation against the family for Emma Guadalupe's escape. After the forced disappearance, the Molina Thiessen family never again saw Marco Antonio and was forced to seek political asylum in a number of other countries. Guatemala acknowledged its international responsibility for these incidents. The Court found Guatemala to have violated numerous articles of the American Convention on Human Rights to the detriment of Marco Antonio, and "Articles, 5(1) and 5(2) (Right to Humane Treatment); 8 (Right to a Fair Trial); 17 (Rights of the Family), and 25 (Judicial Protection) of the American Convention on Human Rights, and that it failed to comply with the obligations established in Articles 1(1) (Obligation to Respect Rights) and 2 (Domestic Legal Effects) thereof, to the detriment of the next of kin of Marco Antonio Molina Theissen," including his sister, Emma Guadalupe.
  • Plan de Sánchez Massacre v. Guatemala, Guatemala, Inter-American Court of Human Rights, 2004.
    The IACHR submitted this case to the Court, alleging violations by Guatemala of the rights to humane treatment, to judicial protection, to fair trial, to equal treatment, to freedom of conscience and of religion, and to private property, in combination with the obligation to respect rights. These allegations arose from a massacre carried out by the Guatemalan army against a primarily Mayan community. During the massacre, approximately 20 girls ages 12 to 20 were mistreated, raped and murdered. Guatemala acknowledged its international responsibility for the massacre and withdrew any objections to the allegations. The Court found that Guatemala "breached the rights set forth in Articles 5(1) and 5(2) (Right to Humane Treatment); 8(1) (Right to Fair Trial); 11 (Right to Privacy); 12(2) and 12(3) (Freedom of Conscience and Religion); 13(2) paragraph a and 13(5) (Freedom of Thought and Expression), 16(1) (Freedom of Association), 21(1) and 21(2) (Right to Property), 24 (Right to Equal Protection) and 25 (Right to Judicial Protection) of the American Convention on Human Rights; and that it did not fulfill the obligation to respect rights set forth in Article 1(1) of that Convention, as set forth in paragraphs 47 and 48 of the instant Judgment."
  • Case of María Eugenia Morales de Sierra v. Guatemala, Guatemala, Inter-American Court of Human Rights, 2001.
    On February 22, 1995 petitioners, the Center for Justice and International Law and María Eugenia Morales de Sierra, brought a claim against the state of Guatemala alleging that certain articles of the Civil Code of the Republic of Guatemala contravened Articles 1(1), 2, 17 and 24 of the American Convention on Human Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The relevant articles of the Civil Code of the Republic of Guatemala conferred the power to represent the marital union to the husband, setting aside only exceptional instances when the wife might exercise this authority; imbued the husband with the right to administer marital property, again limiting the wife’s power to exceptional circumstances; delegated the duty to care for minor children and the home to women, permitting professional engagement outside the home only to the extent that it does not impede her primary role as a mother and homemaker; instilled in men the power to oppose their wife’s activities in court “as long as he provides for her and has justified reasons”; conferred upon men the authority to represent marital children in court and to administer their property; and prevented women from exercising certain forms of guardianship. The Guatemalan Court of Constitutionality upheld these laws using women’s protection and juridical certainty as justification. The Inter-American Court, however, held that these provisions in the Guatemalan Civil Code were not justifiable. The challenged Articles were found to violate the rights established under the American Convention and CEDAW. Articles 1(1), 2, 17 and 24 of the American Convention oblige the state to guarantee the rights enshrined in the Convention, to adopt legislative measures that protect those rights, to ensure gender equality within the institution of marriage and to ensure equal treatment before the law respectively. Articles 15 and 16 of CEDAW mandate that women have equal capacity in civil matters, especially those regarding contract and property rights, and that states take appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination related to marital and family matters. The Articles in the Guatemalan Code deprived María Eugenia Morales de Sierra, and all Guatemalan women, of their rights as guaranteed in the American Convention, preventing them from advocating for their legal interests, reinforcing antiquated notions of gender roles within marriage and perpetuating systemic disadvantages that women in Guatemala face. The Court ordered Guatemala to conform its Civil Code to meet the standards enshrined in the American Convention and to compensate María Eugenia Morales de Sierra for her suffering.
  • Maria Eugenia Morales de Sierra v. Guatemala, Guatemala, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, 2001.
    Discrimination in marriage.  Challenge to Articles 109, 110, 113, 114, 115, 131, 133, 255 and 317 of the Guatemalan Civil Code, which define role of each spouse within the institution of marriage, creating distinctions between men and women in violation of Articles 1(1), 2, 17 and 24 of the American Convention on Human Rights.
  • “White Van" (Paniagua-Morales et al.) v. Guatemala, Guatemala, Inter-American Court of Human Rights, 1998.
    The IACHR submitted this case to the Court to determine whether Guatemala had violated the American Convention on Human Rights by "acts of abduction, arbitrary detention, inhuman treatment, torture and murder committed by agents of the State, of Guatemala against eleven victims," some of them women. The Court held that Guatemala violated Articles 1(1), 4(1), 5(1), 5(2), 8(1) and 25 of the American Convention on Human Rights, as well as Articles 1, 6 and 8 of the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture. The Court ordered Guatemala to investigate and punish those responsible for the violations, and to pay reparations to the victims and their next of kin.
  • Sentence of the Constitutional Court 936-95, Guatemala, Constitutional Court, 1996.
    Court held that a criminal law that punished female adultery more severely than male adultery was unconstitutional, in violation of the idea of equality among persons, as well as equality between married people.