University of Minnesota

Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Guatemala, Inter-Am. C.H.R., OEA/Ser.L/V/II.61, Doc. 47 rev. 1 (1983).





A. General Considerations

1. In the first Report on the Human Rights Situation in Guatemala, the Commission, in studying the political and normative system then in force in that country, made an analysis of the Constitution enacted by the National Constituent Assembly on September 15, 1965, where the bases for the political organization of the Guatemalan State are laid out.

2. On April 26, 1982, the Military Junta of Government presided over by General Efrain Ríos Montt, through Decree Law 24-82, rescinded the Constitution of the Republic of Guatemala,1 implanting, from that moment on, the “Fundamental Statute of Government”, establishing in that text that: “For the time this Statute is in force, the words 'Constitution of the Republic' or 'Constitution' in the laws, currently in force, will be substituted by 'Fundamental Statute of Government', and the words 'President' and 'Congress of the Republic', by Military Junta of Government in the same laws”.2

3. The transformations effected on the constitutional order are thus reflected in that Fundamental Statute of Government which is based on the following considerations:

I. That on March 23, 1982, the Army of Guatemala in fulfilling its obligations with the Nation, echoing the public sentiment and safeguarding the National Honor, deposed the ruling regime, the product of a system that with total disregard for the laws of the country, let it to a state of anarchy and international isolation, with disdain for human life, for integrity in managing public affairs and the rights of citizens (civil rights), ending on a electoral process plagued by manipulations;

II. That the armed movement which deposed the ruling regime has not had, nor does it have now, a purpose other than to lead the country down the path of honesty, stability, legality and security, circumstances necessary for the happiness of the population and the Nation's progress.

III. That, traditionally, Guatemala has maintained close ties of friendship and cooperation with many countries of the international community and that these require the existence of legislation to serve as a basis for such international relations;

IV. That, in the proclamation of the Army of Guatemala dated March 23rd of the current year, the Military Junta of Government assumed the Executive and the Legislative powers of the State, having resolved at the same time, to enact the Statute of Government to legally regulate the country, and it is, therefore in keeping with these circumstances to bring into force the mentioned legal instrument and make it known to the Nation.

B. Political Organization of the State

1. The Fundamental Statute of Government, which in Chapter II, articles 2 and 8, originally organized the political structure of the Guatemalan state on the basis of a Military Junta of Government consisting of a President and two Members, invested with the prerogatives of the Executive and Legislative Powers, and later modified by Decree Law 36-82 of June 9, 1982, which bestowed upon Brigadier General Jose Efrain Ríos Montt the legislative and executive functions of the State as President of the Republic and Commander in Chief of the Army with the powers, attributes and faculties that the Fundamental Statute of Government initially gave to the Military Junta of Government.

2. Also Decree Law 36-82 stated that the expression “Military Junta of Government”, contained in the Fundamental Statute of Government, would be substituted by “President of the Republic,” thus investing General Efrain Ríos Montt with the powers of the Executive and the Legislative.3

3. Among the functions assigned to the President of the Republic by the Statute are the elaboration, enactment and execution of laws as well as the approval or rejection of treaties and other international agreements, stating that the legislative function would be performed through Decree Law.

In addition, this Decree Law established that it was the President of the Republic's responsibility to comply with and enforce the Statute of Government and the other laws of the Nation, to provide for the defense of the national territory and to maintain public order, to lend the necessary assistance in the compliance with decisions of the Court of Justice, to name the diplomatic representatives and members of the consular corps, to designate the members of the Executive Branch, to appoint the President of the Judicial Branch and Supreme Court of Justice, to name the Supreme Court Justices and Judges of the other Courts, to name the members and employees of the decentralized institutions, including the municipalities and other entities, observing the principle that he who nominates also removes.

It is also indicated that it was part of the President of the Republic's responsibilities to impose taxes, administer the Public Wealth, grant retirement, pensions, widow's pension funds, decorations and carry out all other functions befitting the Chief of the Executive Branch.

4. In the event of an invasion of the national territory, grave disturbance of the peace, or activities against the security of the State or national disasters, the President of the Republic has the power to restrict temporarily, partially or completely and as long as the situation demands it, the individual guarantees outlined in the Fundamental Statute of Government except those stipulated in numerals 1), 3), 4), 5), 11), 12), 13), 15), 16) and 17) of Article 23, which are examined in detail further on, and given any of the circumstances mentioned, to establish a state of emergency if warranted, applying, where appropriate, the Public Order Law.

5. Furthermore, under the Fundamental Statute of Government, the President of the Republic may decree amnesty for political offenses and related common offenses, grant pardons in relation to political offenses and related common offenses, carry out any other public function, issue security measures through pertinent means, in defense of peace, public order and the integrity and security of the State. Finally, the President is granted the power to create whatever advisory bodies he may deem necessary.4

C. The Judicial Branch

1. The Fundamental Statute of Government establishes that, in Guatemala, justice is imparted in accordance with the provisions of the Statute itself and the laws of the Nation, based on the self-evident principles of fairness in justice, juridical security and the common good. Moreover, it states that justice must be prompt and ample, and that laws must be adapted to these principles, and that the judicial function is exercised by the Supreme Court and other courts having special or ordinary jurisdiction; that the administration of justice is obligatory, gratuitous and independent of the other functions of the State.5

2. In addition to the Supreme Court, whose members, as noted, are named by the President of the Republic, there are also established as judicial bodies the Court of Appeals, the Contentious-Administrative Court, the Courts of Second Instance of Accounts, the Court of Conflicts of Jurisdiction, the Courts of First Instance with special or Ordinary Jurisdiction and finally, the Military Courts. The nominations to the lower Courts, as mentioned, are made by the President of the Republic preferably, from a list submitted by the Supreme Court.

3. The Fundamental Statute of the Government of Guatemala did not anticipate nor does it contemplate the creation of Courts of Special Jurisdiction.

D. The Public Ministry

1. The Fundamental Statute defines the Public Ministry as the Auxiliary Institution of the Public Administration and the Courts of Justice whose objectives are to ensure strict compliance with the laws of the country and to represent the State. The functions of the Public Ministry are carried out by the Attorney General of the Nation, who has auxiliary agents and investigators as assigned by law,6 and whose principal functions are to:

1. Promote the strict compliance with the laws of the country, execute the judicial or administrative sentences in those cases indicated by the law or when the interests of the State are affected.

2. Represent the State and defend its rights and interests judicially or extra judicially.

3. Participate by its own initiative or when mandated by the Military Junta of Government, and according to the Junta's instruction, in those transactions in which the State may be interested, formalizing the procedures and signing the contracts necessary to that end.

4. Take the necessary steps for the prompt and fair administration of justice and the investigation of offenses and infractions disrupting the public or social order.

5. Assist the Courts and the Public Administration in the enforcement of the Law and act as legal counsel where indicated by Law.7

6. Represent and defend those absent, minors and incompetents who are without legal representation and other persons that the Law may determine.

7. Any other function the Law may determine.

E. Human Rights in the Fundamental Statute of Government

1. The Fundamental Statute provides that:

The dignity of the individual and the rights derived from it are the foundation of the individual guarantees that this Statute of Government recognizes.8

It also states that: “Human rights being the basis for the internal organization of the Nation and its international relations, constitute an absolute value, protected first, by this Statute of Government and therefore, the authorities of the State at all levels, led by the Military Junta of Government,--President of the Republic after Decree Law 36-82—must act within its jurisdiction, scrupulously and frequently with all legitimate means at their disposal to achieve strict compliance with the most effective continuation of the individual rights and guarantees recognized below:

1) Protected and guarantee preferentially and unconditionally are the individual's life, physical integrity and his moral and intellectual personality. Any discrimination due to race, color, sex, religion, birth, social or economic standing or political opinions is prohibited.

2) The right of mobility is ensured so that any person may freely enter, remain, move about and leave the national territory except where restricted by law.

3) Private property is recognized and everyone may freely dispose of his possessions in accordance with the Law.

There will be no expropriations except in cases of public benefit or need, duly substantiated and in accordance with the Law.

4) The Government will regulate all its actions by the principle of not causing any damage to the patrimony of the population, but it will not be responsible for damages caused by factions or commotions disrupting the public order or by the means used to subdue them.

5) The observance of all religions is guaranteed. Churches of all denominations are recognized as legal persons; they will be able to acquire and possess property and to dispose of it, as long as they have religious, educational or social assistance goals.

6) The inhabitants of the Republic have the right to associate freely to pursue the different objectives of human life, for the purpose of promoting, exercising and protecting their trade union interests, economic interests, religious interests, social, cultural and professional interests or any other legal interests. Prohibited, however, without exception, is the organization and operation of groups, associations or entities acting in accordance with or subordinated to, any totalitarian system or ideology, or a system violating in any way the principles and methods of pluralist democracy.

7) The expression of thought by whatever medium is free and without prior censorship except for restrictions imposed by law.

8) Every person's correspondence, documents and private books are inviolable.

9) The inviolability of the home is guaranteed. Premises may be searched only pursuant to a warrant issued by competent authorities and in those cases provided by the Law.

10) No one may be arrested for a crime or minor offense or as a security measure except by virtue of a warrant issued by a competent authority, except the case of in flagrante delicto.

11) No one may be compelled in a criminal case to testify against himself, against his spouse or relatives within the fourth degree of consanguinity or second degree of affinity.

12) No one may be sentenced without having been charged, heard and convicted in trial.

13) The law has no retroactive effect except in criminal matters and then only when favorable to the defendant.

14) Actions or omissions not defined as crimes or offenses and sanctioned by law prior to being perpetrated are not punishable.

15) There is no imprisonment for debts.

16) No arrested or imprisoned person can be denied the satisfaction of his natural functions; nor have inflicted upon him physical or mental torture, cruel treatment, infamous punishment or acts, hardships or coercion, nor be compelled to perform work detrimental to his health or incompatible with his physical constitution or his human dignity. Any agents or public employees issuing orders contravening the provisions contained herein and any subordinates executing those orders will be dismissed from their positions and will be permanently prohibited from holding any public post and will be subjected to the corresponding legal sanction. The heads of prisons and places of detention shall be responsible as perpetrators thereof, for any act of torture, cruel treatment, or infamous punishment inflicted on inmates or persons detained in the establishment of which they are in charge, even when there is a subordinate directly responsible for those acts, and will be convicted as accomplices, unless upon learning of the facts, they took the necessary steps to avoid or stop the act, and initiated proceedings against the perpetrators. Any guard making unauthorized use of arms against an inmate or person arrested will be held responsible in accordance with the Penal Law. The actions derived from the crime committed under these circumstances is not subject to the Statute of Limitations.

17) The right to asylum is recognized and will be extended to political refugees seeking protection under the flag of Guatemala as long as the sovereignty and laws of the State are observed. Whenever expulsion of a political refugee is ordered, under no circumstances will the refugee be handed over to the country whose government pursues him.

18) The inhabitants of the Nation have the right to, individually or collectively, address petitions to the authorities, who are obligated to resolve them promptly, and in accordance with the law.

19) The habeas corpus or “personal appearance” writ is decreed with the purpose of providing information about the treatment of persons arrested.

Magistrates and Courts having knowledge of these writs will limit themselves to ordering the appearance of the arrested persons and ordering their freedom if they have been illegally arrested.

20) The individual rights and guarantees contained in the aforementioned numerals of this Article, do not exclude any others that, although not expressly indicated therein, are inherent in the human person.

The exercise and enjoyment of all the rights and guarantees contained in this Article will only be limited by the security measures that the Military Junta of Government may adopt, but who in adopting such measures, will always take into account the fundamental principles of human dignity and that stipulated in numeral 12) of Article 26 of this Statute with respect to the exceptions indicated.9

2. In addition to Chapter V, special emphasis on the force and importance of human rights is made in Chapter I, Article 1, where human rights are recognized as “fundamental principles in the internal organization of the country and in its international relations”; Article 5 of the same chapter which says that the Military Junta of Government—now to read the President of the Republic—in the exercise of the public power will seek that “the Public Administration act with efficiency and integrity, will ensure that justice is fair, effective and prompt. Furthermore, it will created all the necessary mechanisms for the effective and absolute respect and maintenance of human rights, in a way that the integrity of those measures will allow and facilitate the achievement of the basic goal of the provisional Government, to guide the Nation toward a pluralist democracy, lasting and for the common good”; and Chapter VI, Article 26, item 12, where in referring to states of emergency and suspension of individual guarantees it establishes that: “In such cases, the authorities of the nation at all levels, civil or military, led by the Military Junta of Government—read President of the Republic—must abide by the principle of fundamental respect for the dignity of the human person and will avoid taking steps which are unnecessary or out of proportion with the situation at hand”.

3. Also referring to human rights is Article 7, which says that Guatemala, as member of the international community, pledges to fully comply with the international obligations, treaties and rules of International Law accepted by Guatemala. At the same time, Chapter VII refers to social guarantees; Chapter VIII to the right to education and culture; Chapter IX to labor rights, where the right to free unionization and the right to strike are stated; Article 73 deals with the right to social security and Article 112, treats political rights.

F. The Council of State

1. The Council of State was installed by Decree Law 65-82 of August 16, 1982, as an advisory body designed to study and present solutions to the different problems emerging from the social, economic and political development of the nation.

2. The Council of State was created as an advisory entity of the government, not as a legislative body. It is formed by five counselors designated by the Executive Branch; one designated by the Judicial Branch; one designated by the San Carlos University of Guatemala; one designated in common agreement with the private universities legally established; one by each one of the following sectors; agriculture, industry, business and the private sector; one by each of the following political parties: Authentic Nationalist Center, Christian Democracy, United Front of the Revolution, National Liberation Movement and National Renewal Party; one by urban workers and one by agricultural workers; one by the Executive Board of the National Association of Municipalities; one elected from among the directors of national federations of cooperatives; one designated by the professional associations recognized by the San Carlos University; one by press organizations whose juridical personality is legally recognized; a female advisor representing women's organizations, and 10 counselors designated by the largest Indian ethnic groups in the country.

3. The Council of State is assigned the following attributes: to forward, for the consideration of the President of the Republic, the solutions it deems pertinent to the social, economic, institutional and political development problems of the country; to emit opinions on government bills and other matters which due to their nature or importance are submitted to the Council for consideration; to resolve any request for advice made by the President of the Republic and to draft those government bills entrusted to them by the President; to accept or reject the resignation of its members, and to write its regulations.

G. The Army of Guatemala

1. On March 23, 1982, the Army of Guatemala, after overthrowing General Romeo Lucas García and installing General José Efrain Ríos Montt in the Presidency, issued a proclamation consisting of 14 points and whose text is included in the introductory section of this report. That proclamation, later called “Fundamental Basis of the New Government of Guatemala”, delineates not only the goal pursued by the Army of Guatemala through the actual government but also, the nature of the compromise assumed by that military institution with the country in sharing the responsibility for the political administration of Guatemala.

2. Although as a whole the Statute of Government gathers, expresses, and systemizes into a legal instrument the political principles of the Army's Proclamation, in Chapter XIII where it addresses the Army of Guatemala, it retains the same military characteristics of the institution, separating it completely from direct participation in the governing process of the country and indicating that its purpose is “to safeguard and maintain independence, sovereignty and the honor of the nation, the integrity of its territory and the peace of the Republic” and that the Army “is one and indivisible, apolitical, essentially obedient and non-deliberative, is made up of land, air and sea forces; its organization is hierarchical and it is based on the principles of discipline and obedience.”10

3. In addition, Article 89 of the Fundamental Statute establishes that:

The organization of paramilitary forces or militias other than the Army of Guatemala is prohibited, and their activity punishable.

H. The Amnesty Law of 1982

1. In the month of May 1982, the Military Junta of Government enacted Decree Law 33-82, granting amnesty for political and related common crimes to persons who participated in them as actors or accomplices, and who either individually or collectively belonged to the subversive factions, and to members of the Security Forces of the State who, in discharging their duty, had participated in anti-subversive actions.

2. The first Amnesty Law was in force for 30 days until June 30, 1982. The Commission does not know exactly the number of persons belonging to the subversive factions and to the Security Forces who sought protection under this law, although it has been informed that very few people involved in guerrilla activities had been willing to submit themselves to the unclear procedures established in that law. Yet, all the perpetrators of the murders and grave human rights violations committed during the term of the deposed General Romeo Lucas García took refuge under the law and were automatically benefited without discrimination. For them, the law became a cloak of immunity which protected them, with respect to human rights violations, from investigations and sanctions that the government of General Ríos Montt might have imposed on them.

I. The Legal Provisions of July 1, 1982: The State of Siege and the

Creation of the Courts of Special Jurisdiction

1. The day after the deadline for seeking protection under the first Amnesty Law expired on June 30, the government of General Ríos Montt enacted a package of laws ordering the partial mobilization of the army and mandatory draft for persons between 18 and 30 years of age (Decree Law 44-82); declaring a State of Siege for the whole country (Decree Law 45-82); creating the Courts of Special Jurisdiction (Decree Law 46-82), as well as instituting other measures restricting public liberties.

2. Although these measures will be analyzed in greater depth in their respective chapters in this report, the following is a summary of the considerations which constituted the legal basis for imposition of the State of Siege and the creation of the Courts of Special Jurisdiction.

3. With respect to the State of Siege, Decree Law 45-82 laid the foundation in the following terms:

1. That in spite of the good intentions of the Government of the Republic expressed when enacting Decree Laws 33-82 and 34-82, by which amnesty was granted for thirty days to persons belonging to or who have belonged to subversive factions in the country, many of the persons participating as members of these organizations have not only ignored the aforementioned amnesty but, in addition, have pronounced themselves against it committing new crimes and terrorist acts in different regions of the national territory.

2. That the criminal activity mentioned above, has disturbed the peace, tranquility and the public order to the detriment of the honest and industrious people of Guatemala, reason why the fight against subversion has come to signify not only an obligation for the Army but a social necessity that inevitably involves all Guatemalans of all classes, social and economic conditions.

3. That, given those circumstances, it is necessary to put into force the legal provisions that the juridical structure of the State places in the hands of the Executive.

4. As a consequence of the imposition of a State of Siege for thirty days over the whole territory of Guatemala and its successive extensions until March 23, 1983, the following individual guarantees contained in Article 23 of the Fundamental Statute of Government were suspended for that period of time: Numeral 2, right to mobility and transit and to enter and leave the country; Numeral 6, right to association; Numeral 7, right to free expression and dissemination of thought without prior censorship; Numeral 8, the inviolability of correspondence and of books or private documents; Numeral 9, inviolability of domicile and protection against illegal searches; Numeral 10, right not to be arrested unless there is a warrant issued by a competent authority; Numeral 18, right to petition; and Numeral 19, right to recourse of habeas corpus or “personal appearance.”

5. Moreover, Article 4 of Decree Law 45-82 suspended union activities; Article 5, empowered the Executive to suspend “the activity of any entity, group, organization or association, with or without juridical personality, which directly or indirectly contributes to the causes motivating the imposition of the Public Order Law; Article 6, at the same time, empowered the Executive to militarize public services and the activities it deems necessary “including schools”; furthermore, in other provisions it granted ample powers to the military authorities to restrict the exercise of other rights and liberties, including authorizing the military authorities to “order the arrest of any person suspected of conspiring against the government, of disturbing the public order or engaging in activities which tend to achieve that, without judicial order or writ” (Article 8) and to search domiciles or any other enclosed place without a warrant from a competent authority (Article 9).

6. On March 23, 1983, the Government lifted the State of Siege which had been in effect since July 1, 1982.11

7. In addition, Decree Law 46-82 created the Courts of Special Jurisdiction under the following considerations:

1. That groups of criminals, by subversive activities of an extremist nature, aim to change the legal, political, social and economic institutions of the nation through violent means;

2. That those who engage in these activities used methods which disturb the public order, seriously alter the social well being and destroy lives and possessions of the inhabitants of the Republic.

3. That in order to protect the public order, peace and security, it becomes necessary to enact a law which would guarantee a fast and exemplary administration of justice in the trials of offenses attempting against these values.

These courts had the power to hear cases, resolve them and execute the decision in accordance with the law that created them, and hear proceedings instituted for offenses contained in Titles VII, XI and XII of the Volume Two of the Penal Code.12

J. The legal measures of March 23, 1983

1. On March 23, 1983, the regime of General Efrain Ríos Montt enacted a series of legislative measures that appeared to liberalize and democratize the regime. Among these measures are the derogation of the law which established the State of Siege; a second Amnesty Law; and three laws relating to the electoral process and the functioning of the political parties.

2. The State of Siege, in force in Guatemala since the enactment of Decree Law 45-82 of June 1, 1982, lasted 9 months, being lifted on March 23 of the present year. Subsequently on June 29, 1983 a state of alarm was reimposed which lasted until the fall of General Ríos Montt.

3. A second measure taken by the Guatemalan Government consisted of enacting Decree Law 27-83 which granted a limited political amnesty. The provisions of the Decree Law are the following:

Article 1. Amnesty is granted for political and related common offenses in which they have participated as authors or accomplices, to persons who individually or collectively belong or have belonged to the subversive factions that have been acting in a violent manner against the political and juridical order of the nation, or who had committed the offense of concealment of those acts.

Article 2. In order for the present amnesty to have its desired effects in favor of those covered by the first paragraph of the previous article of the present law, it is necessary that those persons comply with the following conditions: to appear, voluntarily and within thirty days from the date this law goes into force, before the civil authorities, that is, the departmental government or municipal government, or the nearest military authority and state under oath that they will not participate in the future in subversive activities of any kind, and at that same time, surrendering arms, munitions and other war supplies in their possession, and if pertinent, precisely indicating the place where other supplies are deposited. Immediately, an act will be drawn up in which the respective authority in the name of the government of the Republic, will declare to respect the physical integrity and the liberty of those who have appeared and in that same act their freedom will become effective. There will be a certified copy of each act provided to the interested parties.

With respect to abductions of persons, those wishing to seek protection under the amnesty law have to release the hostage safe and sound in addition to the arms or elements used in committing the offense without demanding or receiving ransom payment of any kind.

Article 3. The present law will not be applicable to those persons who are subject to criminal prosecution, nor will it be applicable to those who had already been sentenced.

Article 4. This Decree Law will go into force eight days after its publication in the Official Record.

4. The legal basis for the amnesty is found in the Fundamental Statute of Government. In accordance with Article 26, paragraph 13, the President of the Republic may declare amnesty for political and related common offenses when convenient for the public well being or the social interest and also grant pardons in relation to political and related common offenses.

5. In the “Whereas” section of the amnesty decree, the Government of Guatemala pointed out that, given the political opening that was decreed on March 23, 1983, it wishes to provide another opportunity13 to the, in its estimation, “reduced subversion still subsisting in the country” to “abandon its attitude and join the immense majority of Guatemalans wishing to live in peace.”

6. The Decree Law in question established a conditional amnesty, not only in time but also in terms of the operative mechanisms, in order for it to have the desired effects in favor of those who fall under Article 1, previously transcribed.

The conditions imposed in Article 2 of the Decree Law establish a period of 30 days in which persons must appear before the nearest civil or military authorities, laying down their arms and declaring under oath their willingness not to participate in subversive activities in the future. In the case of abductions of persons, they will, in addition, have to release the hostage without ransom.

7. The Commission considers that another restriction on the amnesty is the one contemplated in Article 3 of Decree Law 27-83, which state that the law will not be applicable to persons who are undergoing criminal proceedings before the corresponding courts and those for whom, in any case, sentence has been issued, and who have been convicted. In the Commission's opinion, this disposition contradicts the spirit of this juridical measure when it limits its grace only to those complying with the conditions indicated and excluding, in all cases, those under criminal proceedings or already convicted. Thus, Decree Law 27-83 will have the effect of a severely restricted amnesty.

8. Other legislative measures enacted on occasion of the first anniversary of the coup d'etat deal with the workings of the electoral system and the organization of political parties. Decree Law 30-83 establishes the Organic Law of the Electoral Supreme Court which would be permanent, with autonomous functions and jurisdiction over all of the Republic, to ensure compliance of the laws guaranteeing the organization of the electoral process and the free participation of citizens in that process; Decree Law 31-83 creates the registry of citizens and Decree Law 32-83, regulates the functioning of political organizations.14

K. The Government's Social Program: Guns, Beans and the 3 Ts

1. In this Chapter, which considers the political and normative system in force since March 23, 1982, it is inevitable to mention that once the new government assumed power, it set out to change the army's image through a change in strategy; to win the confidence of peasants and Indians, to “win hearts and minds”. To that end, it started several programs, among which we should specifically mention the “Guns and Beans” program and the establishment of “Model Villages” also known as the “3 T” program. Both programs were conceived during the government of President Lucas García. Both programs have been developed further and with greater penetration by the present government.

2. As it was explained to the Commission by Government officials, the Guns and Beans program basically consists of relocating the people who have been displaced from their villages, rebuilding their houses destroyed by political violence and providing them with technical assistance aimed at training the peasant with the purpose of incorporating him as a productive member of his community. The army provides the peasant with the necessary food while he tries to become self-supporting, that is, to sow and harvest. Lastly, it organizes him into civil defense patrols providing the arms so that he will be in a position to defend himself against guerillas and, in that manner, cooperate with the army in ensuring the peace of the general population.

3. The “Model Villages” program consists of settling families displaced by violence in different villages throughout the national territory, providing them with roof, work and tortillas (Techo, Trabajo y Tortillas), thus called the “3 Ts” program. In those settlements, Indians and peasants are supposed to receive necessary sustenance while they embark on the construction of their own homes through communal work and the construction of rural roads. In addition, they must be given the facilities and necessary technical assistance for the use and sowing of parcels of land.

L. International Law

1. In accordance with Article 1 of the Statute of Government, Guatemala is a sovereign nation forming part of the international community and, within it, is free and independent. It recognizes the juridical equality of States, international solidarity and human rights as the fundamental principles of its internal organization and its international relations.

2. Moreover, by virtue of the provisions of Article 7 of that same Statute of Government, it is committed to comply fully with the international treaties and rules of international law accepted by Guatemala.

3. Within the international obligations assumed by Guatemala, it should be specifically mentioned in this report that Guatemala is party to the American Convention on Human Rights which it ratified by Decree 6-78 of April 27, 1978, and whose instrument of ratification it deposited on May 25 of the same year.

4. In the aforementioned instrument of ratification the Guatemalan Government attached a reservation with regard to Article 4, paragraph 4, of the Convention, relating to the non-application of the death penalty for political and politically related common offenses, maintaining as a basis for it that “the Constitution of the Republic of Guatemala in its Article 54, excludes from the application of the death penalty, only political crimes but not politically related common crimes.”

5. The other international agreements relating to the promotion and protection of human rights to which Guatemala is party, are the following: International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965); Convention on Equal Remuneration for Men and Women doing equal work (ILO, 1951); Convention on Employment and Occupational Discrimination (ILO, 1958); Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1958); Convention on the Non Applicability of Legal Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity (1970); Convention on Asylum )1928); Convention on Political Asylum )1933); Convention on the Prisoner's Right to Rehabilitation )1953); Convention on the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organization (ILO, 1948); Convention on the Application of the principles of the Right to Organization and Collective Bargaining (ILO, 1949); Convention on the Political Rights of Women (1953); Convention on the Nationality of Married Women (1957); Convention on the Nationality of Women (1933); Inter-American Convention on the Recognition of the Political Rights of Women (1948); Inter-American Convention on the Recognition of the Civil Rights of Women (1948); Geneva Convention to Improve the Condition of sick and wounded members of the Armed Forces in the Battlefields (1949); Geneva Convention to improve the condition of wounded, sick and shipwrecked members of the Armed Forces at Sea (1949); Geneva Convention on the Treatment of Prisoners of War (1949); Geneva Convention on the Protection of the Civil Population in times of War (1949).15




1 Article 109 of the Fundamental Statute of Government.

2 Article 110 of the Fundamental Statute of Government.

3 Article 2 Decree Law 36-82.

4 Article 26 of Decree Law 24-82.

5 Article 74 of Decree Law 24-82.

6 Article 104 Decree Law 24-82.

7 Article 107 Decree Law 24-82.

8 Article 23 Decree Law 24-82.

9 Article 23 Decree Law 24-82.

10 Article 89 Decree Law 24-82.

11 Yet, it was not until March 4, 1983, that the Government of Guatemala complied with the obligation set forth in Article 27, paragraph 3, of the American Convention on Human Rights, to notify the other States party to the Convention of the suspension of the rights recognized in that Convention.

12 The procedure established in the Decree Law that created the Courts of Special Jurisdiction as well as matters relating to due process will be covered in Chapter IV dealing with the Right to Justice.

13 Prior to this amnesty, the Government of Guatemala had granted another amnesty on May 27, 1982, for political and related common offenses and also for concealment. See Chapter I, section H.

14 These three Decree Laws will be studied at greater length in Chapter VII dealing with Political Rights.

15 Chart of Ratification of Major International Human Rights Instruments up to January 1, 1982, UNESCO.


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