Annual Report 2013
The state of the world's human rights

25 February 2011

Guatemala community at risk after three activists killed

Guatemala community at risk after three activists killed

Amnesty International has called on the Guatemalan authorities to investigate the killing of three indigenous rights activists found shot dead in the east of the country, and to protect the rest of their community.

The bodies of Catalina Mucú Maas, Alberto Coc Cal and Sebastian Xuc Coc - who were active campaigners for the rights of the Quebrada Seca community and had been taking part in negotiations on a land dispute - and their friend Amilcar Choc, were found in a river on 14 February.

"The Guatemalan authorities must launch an independent, thorough and impartial investigation into the killing of these individuals, with the results being made public and those responsible brought to justice," said Guadalupe Marengo Amnesty International's Americas Deputy Director.

"They must also take immediate steps to provide appropriate protection to the Quebrada Seca community in strict accordance with their wishes.  The Guatemalan authorities must ensure that human rights defenders can carry out their legitimate work in an environment free from reprisals."

"To this end, Amnesty International has asked the government to take concrete steps to adopt a Programme of Protection for human rights defenders at risk and a Protocol of Investigation for cases of abuses against them."

Other community activists have received death threats in recent weeks and members of the community believe they are now at risk and are afraid to work their lands and continue their daily activities.

The four went missing after leaving the Quebrada Seca community by boat to go to the University of San Carlos in Rio Dulce in the Izabal region, on 12 February.

Concerned members of the community found Catalina Mucú Maas, Alberto Coc Cal and Sebastian Xuc Coc shot dead a day after discovering their boat with bullet holes and traces of blood inside, as well as the group's backpacks.

The body of their friend Amilcar Choc was found 1km away a day later. All four had been shot numerous times.

Amnesty International said it was concerned at the way the Ministry of Interior and the Public Prosecutor's Office had handled the case; they were slow to respond to the community's initial call for help in searching for the missing four and did not visit the crime scene within a reasonable amount of time.

The Public Prosecutor's Office failed to collect crucial evidence - including the defenders' backpacks and four bullet casings - according to best practice, compromising the standards of the investigation.

The relevant authorities did not investigate prior threats and other incidents that members of the community had denounced in recent weeks.

Issue

Activists 
Extrajudicial Executions And Other Unlawful Killings 
Freedom Of Expression 
Indigenous peoples 

Country

Guatemala 

Region

Americas 

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