Guatemala: Trial of Bruce Harris, Director of Children's rights's rights organisation

Bruce Harris is due to stand trial tomorrow and, if convicted, will face up to 5 years in prison.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

'This blatant attempt to silence a man dedicated to exposing human rights violations must not be allowed to succeed.'

Amnesty International is concerned that the case of Bruce Harris demonstrates that the use of criminal defamation charges against those who expose human rights abuses and issues of social concern in Guatemala is yet another form of persecution of human rights defenders. Between 2000 and 2003 AI reported the killing of at least 18 Guatemalan human rights defenders.

In the past, criminal defamation laws have frequently been used by authoritarian governments in some countries of the Americas region to intimidate and silence critics and government opponents or to pressurise human rights activists into dropping or desisting from pursuing reports of human rights violations. Amnesty International regrets that such practices appear to be ongoing in Guatemala.

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