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Torture in Guatemala is a structural problem, the result of unequal economic and social relations, favored by endemic patterns of discrimination against vulnerable groups such as women, indigenous peoples and rural communities, and people with disabilities. Many recent actions by the Government have worsened the violations of rights and thus weakening the Guatemalan democracy. The Committee Against Torture (CAT) has repeatedly listed the main obstacles to the correct implementation of the Convention against Torture: the persistent inadequacy of the definition of the crime of torture with the provisions of Article 1 of the Convention, a weakened Torture Prevention Mechanism and the lack of judicial independence, which all favor impunity. The prison system is also in crisis. Another problem is the excessive use of force directed at the civilian population, such as, for example, the forced evictions of many communities for the benefit of large companies. In such a context, the situation of human rights defenders is alarming.
Since the end of 2018, the OMCT has been carrying out a meticulous work of monitoring the implementation of the CAT recommendations presented in the last review report to the State. Together with its partner organisations, the Unit for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (UDEFEGUA) and the International Platform against Impunity, the OMCT has undertaken a number of missions in Guatemala, related to the presentation of reports to the CAT. One such report was published in 2020, focusing on the inhuman and degrading situation of people deprived of liberty, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The OMCT has also supported the quest for justice in emblematic cases such as that of Hogar Seguro.
Human rights defenders in Guatemala are systematically subjected to criminalization and violence. Those working for justice and against impunity, and those working on land and indigenous rights are particularly targeted. The OMCT provides support to these defenders, who put their lives at risk on a daily basis for human rights to become a reality in Guatemala.