Guatemala- the struggle for land, justice and human rights

Tomorrow morning Mary Lawlor founder and Executive Director of Front Line Defenders and I are heading off to Guatemala to make a documentary about the situation of human rights defenders told through the eyes of one man - environmentalist Yuri Melini .

Connecting with HRDs in the field: Front Line Missions posted on: 2012/04/30

In February, Front Line Defenders’ Protection Coordinator for the Americas, Caitriona Rice, travelled to Guatemala and Honduras to meet with human rights defenders.

Caitriona Rice in Guatemala - Sushi and Security Cameras

This evening I am writing from my hotel in Guatemala City, where my mission partner Annalisa Mauro, of the International Land Coalition, and I have just been making our own dinner.

UN Special Rapporteur Margaret Sekaggya Concludes Visit to Honduras; Echoes Front Line Defenders Alert About Violence Against HRDsposted on: 2012/02/21

UN Special Rapporteur Margaret Sekaggya concluded her official visit to Honduras with a statement summarizing her visit and listing specific recommendations to the State, to human rights defenders and to the international community.

Front Line Defenders Statement on Violence Against HRDs in the Americas 2012

The start of the new year has seen a dangerous turn for the worse for human rights defenders in the Americas. In the last 2 weeks alone, Front Line Defenders has documented a number of cases of killing, attempted killing, attacks and death threats to human rights defenders throughout the region.

Front Line Defenders is extremely concerned about the apparent increase in violence and intimidation against human rights defenders in the Americas region. As the region continues to deal with the legacy of the past and makes strides towards justice and accountability, it is more important than ever to ensure the safety and security of human rights defenders working on the front lines of securing political, social, cultural, economic and other human rights for the people of the region.

You can read more about these cases on the Americas page at and you can stay updated on news about human rights defenders around the world by signing up for the Front Line Defenders e-bulletin via the website.

Guatemala: Killing of human rights defender Mr Vidal Nahaman Cabrera Tuchposted on: 2012/01/19

Human rights defender Mr Vidal Nahaman Cabrera Tuch was shot dead on a minibus on 17 January 2012 as he travelled towards El Xab village in Retalhuleu.

Guatemala: Threats, intimidation and false accusations against human rights defender Ms Lucia Carolina Escobar Mejíaposted on: 2011/11/02

On 24 and 28 October 2011 respectively, journalist and human rights defender Ms Lucia Carolina Escobar Mejía was subjected to threats, intimidation as a result of a series of articles she wrote denouncing what she described as the social cleansing being carried out by the Security Commission of Panajachel.

Guatemala: Threats against human rights defenders Dr Yuri Giovanni Melini Salguero and Mr Pedro Rafael Maldonado Floresposted on: 2011/08/30

Human rights defenders Dr Yuri Giovanni Melini Salguero and Mr Pedro Rafael Maldonado Flores received threats on 29 August 2011. Yuri Giovanni Melini Salguero is the director of the Centro de Acción Legal, Ambiental y Social de Guatemala – CALAS (Legal, Environmental and Social Action Centre of Guatemala) and Pedro Rafael Maldonado Flores is a legal-political environmental coordinator with the same organisation.

Further Information

CALAS works to promote environmental issues, community participation and respect for the collective rights of indigenous communities in relation to environmental concerns. Yuri Giovanni Melini Salguero received the 2009 Front Line Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk. Front Line previously issued an appeal in relation to an assassination attempt against Yuri Giovanni Melini Salguero on 4 September 2008, and death threats in April 2010.

On 29 August 2011, at approximately 09:30 am, Yuri Giovanni Melini Salguero and Pedro Rafael Maldonado Flores each received a letter in a manila envelope which had been sent by registered post.

Guatemala: Prison sentence handed down by Guatemalan court for issuing threats against human rights defendersposted on: 2011/08/04

Front Line welcomes the news that a Guatemalan court has handed down a three-year prison sentence, commuted to a fine of 10 Quetzales per day over a three-year period, for the crime of issuing death threats against human rights defenders Ms Norma Angélica Cruz Cordova and Ms Gloria Ayala Pinto

Further Information

A court in Guatemala City has convicted Mr Marco Tulio Ayala Casasola for issuing death threats against Norma Angélica Cruz Cordova and Gloria Ayala Pinto on repeated occasions between 2009 and 2010. The Court was provided evidence, presented by the Unit for Crimes Committed against Human Rights Defenders, of the Guatemalan Attorney General's Office for Human Rights, which identified Marco Tulio Ayala Casasola as the author of the threatening calls.

Front Line believes that the aforementioned judicial sentence highlights the possibility of conducting successful investigations into crimes committed against human rights defenders, including those concerning threatening phone-calls and messages.

Guatemala: Break-in and robbery at the offices of human rights organisation Fundación Guillermo Toriello (FGT)posted on: 2011/07/01

On the night of the 26-27 June 2011 human rights organisation Fundación Guillermo Toriello – FGT (Guillermo Toriello Foundation) was broken into and valuable equipment, containing sensitive and important information, was stolen. The FGT promotes the rights of poor rural communities in Guatemala, and works to improve the livelihoods of those communities through supporting their claims to access land and offering technical advice, agricultural support and humanitarian relief where necessary. At the national level the FGT lobbies the Guatemalan government to introduce laws and policies that benefit poor rural communities in Guatemala.