COMMITTEE AGAINST TORTURE
CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES UNDER ARTICLE
19 OF THE CONVENTION
Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture
42. The Committee considered the initial report of Guatemala (CAT/C/12/Add.5
and 6) at its 232nd and 233rd meetings, on 16 November 1995 (CAT/C/SR.232
and 233/Add.1 and 3), and has adopted the following conclusions and
43. The Committee thanks the Government of Guatemala for its report.
It also listened with great interest to the informative oral statement
made by its representatives. The Committee wishes to thank them for
their replies and for the spirit of openness and cooperation in which
the dialogue took place.
44. The Committee welcomes the honesty and frankness of the report
acknowledging that torture occurs in Guatemala.
45. The Committee considers that the present peace process and the
Government of Guatemala's cooperation with the United Nations are
signs of progress.
46. The Committee welcomes the legal changes that have been made by
the State party, including the definition of torture and penalties
associated with that crime which are incorporated into the penal law.
The Committee is also pleased to note that the Government of Guatemala
has amended the Code of Criminal Procedure to deal with human rights
breaches, and that it has abolished the military commissioners.
47. The Committee also welcomes the creation of various organs to
reinforce human rights, including the Procurator for Human Rights,
the Presidential Coordinating Committee for Government Human Rights
Policy and national human rights committees.
48. The Committee is pleased to note Guatemala's commitment to human
49. The Committee is pleased to learn that Guatemala has begun the
process of making the declaration under article 22 of the Convention
and that its representatives do not see any obstacle to such a declaration.
and difficulties impeding the application
of the Convention
50. The Committee acknowledges that Guatemala is in a difficult situation
since the civil democratic Government is obstructed in its action
by a deeply entrenched army and police culture.
51. The Committee also takes note of the wide disparity in the distribution
of the economic wealth in the country creating conditions that may
tend towards confrontation between the law enforcement organs and
those parts of the population which are at the lowest end of the economic
and social scale. In this respect, the Committee wishes to underline
that the individual recourse procedure provided for under article
22 of the Convention would constitute a useful preventive measure
once it has been accepted by the Government.
52. The Committee considers that the right of the citizens to carry
fire-arms, which is enshrined in the Constitution, may be regarded
as a potential obstacle to a full implementation of the Convention.
53. The Committee notes with deep concern that torture and other cruel,
inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment appear to be endemic
in Guatemala, and to include many children among its victims.
54. The Committee is equally concerned at the State's continued failure
promptly and impartially to investigate and prosecute those responsible
for an act of torture and ill-treatment.
55. The de facto impunity for perpetrators of torture resulting from
the above-mentioned facts and the weakness shown by the judicial,
administrative and police authorities in enforcing the law is likewise
a matter of deep concern to the Committee.
56. The Committee is also concerned at the fact that paramilitary
groups and private defence patrols still exist and operate in Guatemala.
57. The Committee recommends that the Government of Guatemala take
the following measures:
(a) Strengthening, in a more significant manner, the activities of
the Procuracy of Human Rights;
(b) Organizing intensive programmes of technical training for the
police, prosecutors and judges;
(c) Providing means and material resources that are necessary for
public law enforcement officials to fulfil their mandates;
(d) Adopting measures providing for an effective coordination between
the police and the prosecutors;
(e) Protecting witnesses, judges and prosecutors from threats and
(f) Imposing severe sanctions for those public officials who do not
comply with their duty of applying the law;
(g) Completely abolishing the so-called Voluntary Committees of Civic
(h) Changing the legal provisions concerning the military jurisdiction,
in order to limit the jurisdiction of military judges exclusively
to military crimes;
(i) Reducing the authorization to carry fire-arms to the minimum strictly