CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
1. In light of the background information and considerations set forth in the present report, the overall conclusion of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is that an alarming climate of violence has prevailed in recent years in Guatemala, which violence has either been instigated or tolerated by a Government, unwilling or unable to contain it. The violence has resulted in an excessive loss of life and in a widespread deterioration of the human rights set forth in the American Convention on Human Rights.
2. While the victims of this violence are found in all sectors of society—including even the Armed Forces and those who possess political and economic power--, there is no doubt at all that the sectors most affected have been political leaders of opposition parties, trade unionists, priests, lawyers, journalists, professors and teachers, as well as the thousands of peasants and Indians who have been assassinated.
3. In the large majority of cases, the deaths resulting from this violence were due to illegal executions and to the “disappearances” engineered by the security forces or paramilitary civilian groups acting in close collaboration with the governmental authorities, which authorities took no steps to conduct proper or effective investigation as to the identities of the perpetrators of these crimes.
4. These illegal executions and disappearances not only violate the right to life, they have created an endemic climate of total alarm, and even terror, which has subverted the rule of law, and in practice, has inhibited the observance of most of the rights set forth in the American Convention on Human Rights.
5. The generalized violence in Guatemala has meant, as shown in the various chapters of this Report, that the rights to personal freedom and safety, a fair trial and due process, freedom of conscience and religion, freedom of thought and expression, and freedom of assembly and association, as well as political rights, are seriously affected and restricted in fact, despite their formal recognition in the Guatemalan Constitution and Laws.
6. The great socio-economic disparities among the various sectors of the Guatemalan population have also contributed to the generalized violence in the country. These disparities are evident in, among other things, the notable lack of correspondence between Guatemala's rates of growth in recent years and the quality of life of approximately half the population, whose economic and social rights—particularly as regards basic needs in the areas of health, nutrition and education—have not been realized.
In consideration of the conclusions set forth here the IACHR presents the following recommendations to the Government of Guatemala:
1. That it take the necessary measures to prevent the occurrence of serious violations of the right of life; that it end the participation of an tolerance by, governmental authorities and paramilitary groups in the violence and terrorism, and that it investigate and rigorously punish those responsible for such acts.
2. That it investigate and punish, with the full force of the law, those responsible for the illegal executions, disappearances, arbitrary detentions and torture.
3. That it effectively guarantee freedom of association, the right of assembly and trade-union freedom as set forth in the Guatemalan Constitution and in the American Convention on Human Rights.
4. That it effect a thorough-going and complete reorganization of the judiciary, so that once it has the human and material resources, the judiciary can function in true autonomy and with sufficient powers to effectively and promptly investigate violations of human rights, and to punish those responsible, regardless of who they may be, without fear of reprisals.
5. That it open a broad dialogue with all sectors of Guatemalan society in an effort to end the violence and to find a solution to the social and economic problems through democratic, peaceful means and processes.