Guatemala: Hundreds of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights murdered while authorities fail to act

According to the Guatemalan authorities, 1,188 Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and girls were murdered between 2001 and 2004. Many of the victims have been raped or sexually abused and in a number of cases the bodies were mutilated and disfigured.

According to police records, Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights accounted for 4.5 per cent of all killings in 2002, in 2003 11.5 per cent and in 2004 12.1 per cent.

To date, according to the Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office, only 9% of the cases have been investigated. Official bodies involved in the investigations have stated that 40% of the cases are simply archived.

The body of 17-year-old Andrea Fabiola Contreras Bacaro was found on 12 June 2004 in a wasteground in Jocotenango, Sacatepéquez.

The word “vengeance” had reportedly been carved into her right leg with a knife. An article published in the daily newspaper Prensa Libre described the brutal murder, stating:

“She was found with her hands tied in a plastic bag which had been thrown into a ditch used as a rubbish dump. Her throat had been cut, she had wounds and cuts on her face and chest and she had been shot at close range in the head. She had been raped, her plastic sandals, white blouse and underclothes were found next to her body.”

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“The lack of proper investigations and convictions in cases of killings of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and girls in Guatemala sends the message that violence against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights in the country is acceptable.

“The true dimension of the killings of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights in Guatemala remains unknown, which underlines the lack of attention given by the Guatemalan authorities to the issue.

“Rape and other sexually violent crimes are often almost invisible due to the lack of reliable statistical information about the numbers and circumstances in which Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights are killed.

“The Guatemalan authorities must ensure that murders are investigated and justice delivered.”

Most of the Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights were housewives, students and professionals. Many came from poor sectors of society, working in low paid jobs as domestic employees, shop or factory workers.

Some were migrant workers from neighbouring countries in Central America, others were members or former members of youth gangs and sex workers. Most of them were between 13 and 40 years of age.

Amnesty International’s report highlights how discrimination is at the core of the human rights crisis Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights are facing in the country, even characterizing the authorities’ response to it.

References to the victims by some officials as gang members or prostitutes have reflected a great level of discrimination towards the victims and their families.

Such attitudes often influence the way in which the cases are investigated and documented or indeed whether they are ever investigated or documented.

Kate Allen said:

“Official inaction and complacency has intensified the suffering of the families whose pleas for a proper criminal investigation to be carried out have frequently gone unheard.”

A lack of training in investigative techniques - including the failure to protect the crime scene or to gather necessary forensic or other evidence and the failure to follow up on possible crucial evidence – the lack of technical resources and lack of coordination and cooperation between state institutions, has meant that many cases have never gone beyond the initial investigation stage.

On the 11th anniversary of the adoption of the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights, Amnesty International calls on the Guatemalan government to:

  • Publicly condemn the abduction and murder of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and girls;
  • Carry out immediate, coordinated, full and effective investigations into all cases of abduction and murder of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and girls in Guatemala and bring those responsible to justice;
  • Strengthen and improve coordination and resource allocation for all state institutions dealing with violence against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights – particularly the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights of the Public Ministry;
  • Develop and implement adequate warning and protection programs to prevent the abduction and murder of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights.

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