EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AMR 34/13/94
UA 98/94 Fear for Safety 11 March 1994
GUATEMALA Yolanda PÉREZ RUIZ, Judge (f)
Amnesty International is concerned for the safety of Judge Yolanda Pérez Ruiz,
of the Second Court of Instruction in the Department of Chimaltenango, following
threats and other acts of intimidation against her.
According to reports, on 11 February 1994 an unidentified man took photographs
of the staff and the buildings of the Chimaltenango court; on 18 February,
Judge Pérez received an anonymous phone call informing her that she would be
kidnapped. These attempts at intimidation continued with a bomb threat in
the court on 25 February and the court is reportedly under continuous
surveillance by unknown men.
The intimidation of Judge Pérez apparently stems from her work on the case
of José Mercedes Similox Telón. In order to serve a writ of habeas corpus
filed on his behalf on 3 February 1994, the Judge went to the Military Zone
302, where he was being held. She was accompanied by a number of other
officials, among them two members of the Human Rights Procurator's office and
another officer from the Chimaltenango court. An officer of the military base
instructed one of his subordinates to respond to the writ of habeas corpus
and produce José Similox Telón.
After waiting some time, Judge Pérez went to the courtyard of the base where
two officers and some soldiers reportedly demanded a written order and prevented
her from entering the buildings. They also declined to give any information
on José Similox Telón. Accordingly, the judge informed them of the legal
consequences of obstructing a writ of habeas corpus and then left.
There is no indication why this case in particular should have led to the
intimidation of Judge Pérez.
On 8 February, an article reportedly appeared in the Guatemalan media entitled
"Court Hearing and Removal of Judge Being Planned". A few days later President
Ramiro de León Carpio appeared on television and reportedly supported the
proposed dismissal of Judge Yolanda Pérez.
On 6 June 1993 Ramiro de León Carpio, former Human Rights Procurator, was voted
President by Congress to serve out the remaining term of ex-President Serrano.
The latter had been forced from office after trying to seize near-dictatorial
powers on 25 May 1993. When President de León Carpio came to power there were
expectations that he might be able to improve the human rights situation, due
to his former role as Human Rights Procurator. However, since he assumed
office, human rights violations including threats and intimidation have
continued. Trade unionists, journalists, human rights activists and members
of the judiciary are among those who have suffered such abuses.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and airmail
letters either in Spanish or in your own language:
- expressing concern at the threats and acts of intimidation against Judge