International Affairs, Peace & Human Security

United Nations Commission on Human Rights
56th Session, March / April 2000
Reaction of the Oficina de Derechos Humanos del Arzobispado (ODHA) to the Special Rapporteurs' reports

The Human Rights Office of the Archbishop of Guatemala would like to inform the international and the national public opinion about its views over the reports submitted by the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Mr. Param Coomaraswamy, and the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, Ms Ofelia Calcetas Santos.

  1. We welcome the important work realized by the Special Rapporteurs and we are grateful for the collaboration granted by friendly countries and by the organizations that supported the visits of such relevant officers in Guatemala during 1999.

  2. The recommendations included in the reports are appropriate, but we think that it is important to highlight some of them in order to achieve an effective change in the work of judges and lawyers:

    1. it is important that the accomplishment of the recommendations formulated by the "Comisión para el Esclarecimiento Historico" and other organizations are reiterated in view of a true independent judiciary. Therefore, we believe that the donor countries, which mainly support the modernization process of the judicatory system, must request the Guatemalan government to progress and to show specific results in the implementation and fulfillment of these recommendations;

    2. with regard to impunity, we value the suggestion to establish an independent international team to analyze and follow the cases having a strong social impact. This team might be supported by those sectors of society, which have been affected by the lack of justice as, at present, there are no internal mechanisms to ensure the resolution of their cases. We suggest that the team is composed by Guatemalan and foreign experts in this field, whose mandate should have a double function: i) to evaluate the technical work realized in the course of the investigations, ii) to provide with technical advisory services during the investigations.

    3. with regard to the other recommendations, we call for the establishment of a commission, composed by representatives of different sectors of the civil society, in order to follow-up and permanently monitor their implementation as well as the role that the State must accomplish. This commission might also realize a set of actions aiming at the effective implenation of these recommendations.

    4. we strongly welcome the recommendation clerarly indicating the need to exclude from public office those responsible for human rights violations. Therefore, we believe that it is urgent that the Guatemalan government analyzes the profile of its civil servants as well as of their precedents related to human rights violations in order to identify them and to impede that they are elected, appointed or contracted to exercise public functions.

  3. Both the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers and the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography agreed in indicating the importance for the socio-political life of the country of the approval and entry into force of the Code on childhood and youth at the earliest. This recommendation is pertinent as we believe that the Code includes a set of mechanisms that facilitate a comprehensive development of the Guatemalan childhood and youth.

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