Alert: Keep track of all human rights news on our website and social media!
Urgent Interventions

Civil society organizations condemn ongoing criminalization of human rights defenders Claudia Samayoa and José Martínez

April 2nd, 2019.

We the undersignedorganizations are gravelly alarmed by the ongoing, targeted criminalization ofhuman rights defenders in Guatemala including the recent judicial harassment ofdefenders Mrs. Claudia Virginia Samayoa Pineda and Mr. José Manuel MartínezCabrera. The targeted judicial harassment of Ms. Samayoa Pineda and Mr.Martinez Cabrera is illustrative of the authorities’ growing intolerance ofindependent dissent, including defenders working on land and environmentaldefense.

Mrs. Samayoa Pineda isPresident of the Board of Directors of UDEFEGUA, an organization which works tosupport human rights defenders in Central America, and member of the OMCTExecutive Committee; while Mr. José Manuel Martínez Cabrera is a member of theJusticia Ya Collective, a citizen movement which opposes corruption andimpunity. Both human rights defenders are being subjected to a criminalcomplaint by Mr. Nester Mauricio Vásquez Pimentel, in his capacity as Presidentof the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) and representing the CSJ, on spuriouscharges of illegally obtaining a court document and influence peddling. It isbroadly acknowledged that civil society groups, including UDEFEGUA and theJusticia Ya collective, have been instrumental in the fight against impunityand public corruption in the country.

The criminal case againstboth defenders is a direct response to a complaint the defenders filed onJanuary 17, 2019 requesting the withdrawal of the privilege of immunity from 11judges of the CSJ. The complaint contends that the 11 judges breached theConstitution of Guatemala and committed judicial prevarication by allowingcriminal proceedings against three judges from the Constitutional Court (CC).Along with the complaint presented to CSJ on January 17, 2019, Ms. SamayoaPineda and Mr. Martínez Cabrera annexed a copy of the CSJ decision which allowsthe criminal proceedings against the CC judges to continue. Despite the factthat this document had been widely circulated in the national press and on socialmedia, the President of the CSJ is accusing these two human rights defenders ofillegally obtaining it.

The criminalization of bothdefenders is yet another example of the targeted reprisals leveled againstcivil society organisations and human rights defenders that have mobilisedagainst a series of attacks on Guatemala's democratic institutional framework.Among other worrying attempts to undermine democratic norms and the rule of lawin Guatemala, the authorities have sought to delegitimize the judges of theConstitutional Court and unilaterally cancel an agreement with the UN endingthe International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG).

In the framework of ourcommitment to justice and human rights, we make a public call to the GuatemalanGovernment to:

1) End all acts ofharassment, misuse of criminal law and criminalization against individuals andcommunities that defend human rights in Guatemala, including Ms. ClaudiaVirginia Samayoa Pineda and Mr. José Manuel Martínez Cabrera. In particular, weask the Public Ministry to dismiss the criminal complaint against both humanrights defenders.

2) Adopt the mostappropriate measures to guarantee the safety and physical and psychologicalintegrity of Ms. Claudia Virginia Samayoa Pineda and Mr. José Manuel MartínezCabrera and of all human rights defenders in Guatemala.

3) Protect, respect andguarantee the realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms in allregions of Guatemala, as well as the validity of a democratic State.

Signatory organisations:

Action Aid, Guatemala

African Centre for Justiceand Peace Studies (ACJPS), Sudan

Alianza Frente a laCriminalización (AFC), Guatemala

Asamblea socioambientalde General Roca. Argentina

Asian Legal ResourceCentre (ALRC)

Asociación Ambiente ySociedad - Colombia

Asociación COMUNICARTE,Guatemala

Asociación de Mujeresde Guatemala AMG, España

Asociación deTrabajadoras del Hogar a Domicilio y de Maquila ATRAHDOM

AsociaciónInteramericana para la Defensa del Ambiente (AIDA), Colombia

Asociación para unaCiudadanía Participativa (ACI PARTICIPA) – Honduras

Association for HumanRights in Ethiopia (AHRE), Ethiopia

AWID (Association forWomen’s Rights in Development)

Banglar ManabadhikarSuraksha Mancha (MASUM), India

Cambodian Center for HumanRights (CCHR), Cambodia

Carea e.V., Alemania

Center for Justice andInternational Law (CEJIL)

Central General deTrabajadores de Guatemala

Centro de IncidenciaAmbiental de Panamá (CIAM)


Civil Society OrganizationsNetwork for Development (RESOCIDE), Burkina Faso

Colectivo CADEHO,Alemania

Collectif Guatemala,Francia,

Comité de Familiares delas Víctimas de los Sucesos de Febrero-Marzo de 1989 (COFAVIC) – Venezuela

Comité de Solidaridadcon los Presos Políticos (CSPP) – Colombia

Comite Noruego desolidaridad con America Latina, Noruega

Committee AgainstTorture, Russian Federation

Comunidades enResistencia Pacífica de La Puya, Guatemala

Confederación Unitariade Trabajadores de Honduras

Congregation of Our Lady ofCharity of the Good Shepherd, US Provinces

Consorcio para eldiálogo parlamentario y la equidad Oaxaca A.C .- México CoordinadoraCivil-Nicaragua

Coordinadora Nacionalde Derechos Humanos (CNDDHH) - Perú


Derecho Ambiente yRecursos Naturales DAR (Perú)

Dienst fuer Mission,Oekumene und Entwicklung der Evangelischen Landeskirche Stuttgart, Alemania DKAAustria

Federación Guatemaltecade Escuelas Radiofónicas (FGER), Guatemala

Festivales Solidarios,Guatemala

Foro de OrganizacionesNo Gubernamentales Internacionales en Guatemala (FONGI)

Front Line Defenders

Fundación Ambiente yRecursos Naturales (FARN)

Fundación CiudadaníaInteligente

Fundación de Estudiospara la Aplicación del Derecho (FESPAD)

Fundación KarmelJuyup’, Guatemala

Fundación para elDebido Proceso (DPLF)

German Zepeda, SolidarityCenter

Global Witness

Guatemala-Netz Zürich


Human Rights DefendersNetwork- SL

Iglesia Luterana ILUGUAde Guatemala, Guatemala

Impunity Watch, PaísesBajos

International Commission ofJurists (ICJ)-Kenya, Kenya

International Labor RightsForum (ILRF)

International LandCoalition (ILC) - América Latina y el Caribe

International LandCoalition (ILC) - Secretariat

JASS (Just Associates)

Karapatan Alliance for theAdvancement of People's Rights, Philippines

Kazakhstan InternationalBureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law (KIBHRL), Kazakhstan KM207Guatemala-Suisse

Latin America Working Group

Ligue Burundaise des droitsde l’homme Iteka, Burundi

Maryknoll Affiliates

Maryknoll Office for GlobalConcerns

Metro Center,Journalists Rights & Advocacy

Movimiento por la Paz(MPDL)

Mugen Gainetik, delPaís Vasco, España

Oekumenische InitiativeMittelamerika e.V., Alemania

Organización MundialContra la Tortura (OMCT) – Internacional


Oxfam America

Peace Watch Switzerland(PWS), Suiza

People in Need

Philippine Alliance ofHuman Rights Advocates (PAHRA), Philippines

PlataformaInternacional contra la Impunidad

Presbyterian Church(USA)

Presbyterian PeaceFellowship

Programme Against CustodialTorture & Impunity (PACTI), India

Project on Organizing,Development, Education and Research (PODER)

Protection InternationalMesoamérica

Public Association“Spravedlivost” Jalal-Abad Human Rights Organization, Kyrgyzstan

Public Verdict Foundation,Russian Federation

Reacción Climática, Bolivia

Red Latinoamericana ydel Caribe por la Democracia

Robert F. Kennedy HumanRights

Seguridad en Democracia(SEDEM)

Sindicato detrabajadoras domésticas de maquila, nexas y conexas SITRADOM

Sisters of Mercy of theAmericas - Institute Justice Team

Solidaridad con Guatemalade Austria (Guatemala Solidarität Österreich) SOS-Torture/Burundi, Burundi

The Fund for Global HumanRights

UDEFEGUA, Guatemala


Washington Office on LatinAmerica (WOLA), United States

West African Human RightsDefenders Network

World Movement forDemocracy

ZEB / Zentrum fuerentwicklungspolitische Bildung der Evangelischen Landeskirche Stuttgart,Alemania Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum

Invidividual signatories:

Ana Lucía IxchíuHernández, Guatemala

David O., ciudadano delos E.E.U.U.

Dra. Lisette AguilarPrado, Guatemala

Esther Gut de Zurich,Suiza

Eve Chayes Lyman

Iduvina HernándezBatres, Guatemala

Karla AVELAR activistatrans refugiada

Maya Alvarado Chávez,Guatemala

Mirna Ramírez, Guatemala

Padre Cirilo SantamariaSáez, Guatemala

Samwel Mohochi, ExecutiveDirector, ICJ Kenya

Tony Smith, ciudadanode los E.E.U.U.

Victoria Sanford, PhD,Director, Center for Human Rights & Peace Studies, Lehman College, CityUniversity of New York, United States

Sign up now

Subscribe to our latest news & alerts