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Human Rights Committee examines efforts of Guatemala to promote and protect civil and political rights

GENEVA (13 March 2018) - The Human Rights Committee today concluded the review of the fourth periodic report of Guatemala on measures taken to implement the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Presenting the report, Jorge Luis Borrayo Reyes, President of the Presidential Coordination Commission of Governmental Politics on Human Rights, reiterated the serious commitment of Guatemala to human rights, which was evident also in the development of the legislation to ensure the application of the Covenant.  After more than three decades of internal armed conflict, Guatemala was beginning to improve human rights within its borders but many challenges remained including budgetary constraints.  A national strategy to prevent violence and crimes against women was put in place, services to aid women victims of abuse were being delivered through 15 centres all over the country, and 29 specialized courts for femicide had been opened.  The work was ongoing on incorporating the United Nations definitions of torture as well as the provisions of the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture.  The retrial of the former President José Efraín Ríos Montt for crimes against humanity was pending, while the disappeared persons act was before the Congress.  The death penalty had been declared unconstitutional and its abolition was now before the courts.  The murder rate continued to fall in past years; 90 criminal gangs had been disbanded and 13.7 tons of cocaine had been sized, a historical record.  Another area where decisive measures were being taken was the corruption in the judicial appointments, and Guatemala ensured that the Supreme Court judges and other high-ranking judicial officials were being elected in an independent manner.  

During the discussion, Committee Experts wondered whether the proposed legal reform would successfully remove barriers to accountability for the grave human rights violations committed in the past, including genocide and crimes against humanity.  Recalling that 45,000 persons had been disappeared during the internal armed conflict, Experts asked about the status of the centralized register of disappeared persons.  It was a matter of great concern that the army was deployed to conduct law enforcement operations within the country’s borders, Experts said, since there was no legal basis for it to carry out what were essentially police activities. 

Noting with concern a rapid growth in private security companies, which employed over 150,000 persons, Experts asked how the State ensured the oversight and their respect for the law and human rights, including those protected by the Covenant.  It was estimated that 20 per cent of Guatemala’s public spending was not being used appropriately because of corruption; there was serious overcrowding in prisons, up to 328 per cent in 2017, and there were even five prisons with over 400 per cent occupancy rates; while journalists and human rights defenders were under particular attack and suffered smear campaigns, arbitrary detention and terrorism charges.  Violence against women, often involving beheading and dismembering, consistently increased and now reached the third highest rate in the world – what was being done to combat the phenomenon, punish the perpetrators and support the survivors? 

In his concluding remarks, Mr. Reyes said that in the light of the significant challenges that remained, development was the best pathway forward toward human rights and peace.

Yuji Iwasawa, Committee Chair, in his final remarks, urged Guatemala to use this dialogue to better integrate the International Covenant in the Constitution, and address issues such as discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, attacks against judges and prosecutors, and lynching and mistreatment of indigenous peoples.

The delegation of Guatemala consisted of representatives of the Presidential Coordination Commission of Governmental Politics on Human Rights, Private Secretary of the President of the Guatemalan Republic, Presidential Commission against Discrimination of Indigenous Guatemalan People, Congress, Supreme Court, Constitutional Court, Public Prosecution Service, Ministry of Labour and Social Provisions, Ministry of Social Affairs, Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Public Affairs, and the Permanent  Mission of Guatemala to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The Committee will issue its concluding observations and recommendations on the report of Guatemala towards the end of its session, which concludes on 6 April 2018. 

All the documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, can be found on the session’s webpage.  The webcast of the Committee’s public meetings is available at UN Web TV.

The Committee will next meet in public at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 13 March to consider the seventh periodic report of El Salvador (CCPR/C/SLV/7).

Report

The Committee is considering the fourth periodic report of Guatemala (CCPR/C/GTM/4).

Presentation of Report

JORGE LUIS BORRAYO REYES, President of the Presidential Coordination Commission of Governmental Politics on Human Rights of Guatemala, in the presentation of the report, reiterated the serious commitment to human rights which was evident in the development of the legislation to ensure the application of the International Covenant.  Public policies had been adopted concerning the rights of children and adolescents, and advances were being made in the area of women’s rights: 54 per cent of participants in the last local elections were women, while women of African and indigenous descent had been given better recognition.  The Ministry of Labour had received 223 complaints concerning worker’s rights since 2015 that were now subject to legal proceedings, and the number of child labourers was reduced.  Guatemala had adopted a national strategy to prevent violence and crimes against women, while services to aid women victims of abuse were being delivered through 15 centres all over the country.  In addition, the country had seen the creation of national inspectorates in ten national hospitals to help victims of sexual violence and the opening of 29 specialized courts for femicide, to aid the families of victims and provide reparations.  Over the past two years, 672 judgements for the crime of femicide had been passed.

The Constitutional Court had declared that the article against torture was still in force, and Guatemala was working on incorporating the United Nations definitions of torture as well as the provisions of the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture.  The public prosecution service had received 17,927 complaints of corruption and had handed down 375 convictions; the retrial of the former President José Efraín Ríos Montt for crimes against humanity was pending.  The disappeared persons act was still before Congress, awaiting approval, but this had not prevented different institutions from searching for disappeared persons.  In the meantime, a manual had been created and distributed for identifying human remains and the best practices for forensic identification.  As part of the National Reparations Programme, 329 exhumations had been carried out and reparations had been paid to over 2,000 families in the amount of over 24 million USD.  Guatemala had launched a national plan to strengthen the police force which encompassed nearly 3,000 police officers.  The death penalty had been declared unconstitutional and its abolition was now before the courts.  The murder rate continued to fall in past years; 90 criminal gangs had been disbanded and 13.7 tons of cocaine had been sized, a historical record.  The Government was taking steps to prevent prison overcrowding and reduce recidivism rates.

Another area where decisive measures were being taken was the corruption in the judicial appointments, and Guatemala ensured that the Supreme Court judges and other high-ranking judicial officials were being elected in an independent manner.  The system for the protection of judges from intimidation had been put in place in 2016.  Juvenile rehabilitation programmes had been created and public defenders specialized in criminal law were made available to young offenders.  In total, 838 crimes committed against journalists and human rights activists had been reported.  Concrete steps to improve the situation of patients in mental health hospitals included the opening of a special psychiatric clinic for children and adolescents had been created.  Strict measures had been put in place to protect children from child pornography and trafficking in persons, while abortion was permitted when the health of the mother was concerned.

Questions by Committee Experts

Opening the interactive dialogue with the delegation of Guatemala, a Committee Expert noted that this would be a wide-ranging dialogue on issues such as progress made in the protection of human rights and human rights defenders, gender equality, violence particularly against women, prohibition of torture, combatting corruption, judicial independence, and others.  

Turning to the Committee’s concluding observations, the Expert inquired who would be tasked with following up and implementing them, the methodology applied, and the participation of civil society.  The Expert noted that Guatemala was confronting a number of issues vis-à-vis the implementation of the judgements and decisions of the Inter-American Court for Human Rights and asked how it would approach any recommendation by this Committee in relation to individual complaints for the violation of Covenant rights submitted by Guatemalan citizens.

Concerning the protection of human rights by the courts, the Expert noted the absence of court decisions and rulings which applied the provisions of the Covenant and wondered how those provisions were reflected in the national legislation.  Perhaps there was a need to ensure its broader dissemination among judges and court officials.

The Human Rights Advocate established in 1985 by the Constitution was of critical importance not only in Guatemala but also for its international credibility; its annual report was a precious tool in understanding the human rights situation in the country.  How would Guatemala continue to support the independence of this institution, including its financial independence?  The Congress had attempted to limit the budget in 2018 – what would be done to ensure the Advocate had sufficient resources to operate throughout the country?

Turning to gender equality and rights of women, the Expert asked about the current situation of women in political life, the number of women serving as judges and prosecutors, and how many of those were indigenous women.  Did Guatemala believe that quotas would be helpful to increase women’s political participation?  In the labour market, the inclusion of women was very low even if women represented 51 per cent of the country’s population.  Only four out of ten women worked and in addition suffered a considerable wage gap of 14.3 per cent.

What measures had been taken to ensure equality between men and women in all spheres, including their participation in political life?  How were Government programs and institutions that sought to promote the rights of indigenous and Afro-descendent women being supported and strengthened?  Also, how was the wage gap between men and women being addressed. 

The Expert also inquired about mechanisms for monitoring compliance with labour legislation in place, how the Inspectorate-General for Labour was funded and how it carried out its functions.  The delegation was further asked about measures to develop equal opportunities for women in rural areas and close the important gender pay gap, and to protect indigenous women.

Violence against women - psychological, physical and sexual – persisted while violent deaths of women, often involving beheading and dismembering, consistently increased over the last three years to reach the third highest rate in the world.  What measures was the State taking to combat violence against women, punish the aggressors and support the survivors.  Was Guatemala considering the introduction of specialized judges in special courts for indigenous women.

Experts further asked about the nature and results of measures, including awareness-raising campaigns, taken to prevent and provide the effective protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, in particular against transgender women.  How many such complaints had been received, how many investigations had been conducted and with what results.  Did lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons feel safe in reporting crimes against them.

Experts recognized that abortion was criminalized and subject to three years’ imprisonment, and that it was only allowed if health of the mother was at risk, which pushed women towards unsafe abortions.  What progress was being made to decriminalize abortion as recommended by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.  Experts further asked about the effectiveness of sexual and reproductive health and education services, and how accessible those were to indigenous women.

In terms of pursuing accountability for past human rights violations, there was a concern about delays in the retrial of José Efraín Ríos Montt for crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity.  In addition, only four prosecutions for grave human rights violations ended up with convictions.  Obstacles to combating impunity included judicial harassment and intimidation, requests for amnesty, lack of evidence, and obstruction of legal and judicial proceedings.  What was the status of the proposed legal reform in this context and how would accountability barriers be addressed.

Experts remarked that 45,000 people had been disappeared during the internal armed conflict, and inquired about the concrete steps to establish a centralized register of disappeared persons.  Why delays in the reparations to people affected by the internal armed conflict, and in the investigation of individual cases.

In 2012, the Constitutional Court had declared the law on torture unconstitutional on grounds of omission, Experts recalled and asked about the status of the amendments to this law, criminalization of torture, and statistics regarding complaints of acts of torture and ill-treatment.  What happened during investigations, what were the outcomes of disciplinary and criminal proceedings and how were the victims compensated.  Could the delegation explain how it prevented torture from happening.

The delegation was asked whether the national police had sufficient human and material resources to exercise its mandate; steps to prevent human rights abuses and violations committed by law enforcement officials, particularly torture and ill-treatment, and punish the perpetrators; and the number of complaints for human rights violations attributed to police officers, as well as measures taken to investigate, prosecute and sanction the perpetrators and compensate the victims.

Experts were concerned about the law enforcement operations conducted by the army within the country, since there was no legal basis for the army to carry out what are traditionally police activities.  They asked whether such interventions were conducted in accordance with clear and established protocols, their duration and goals, and whether the army acted as a border patrol particularly in the context of migration.

How were indigenous peoples and people of African descent integrated in the political life in Guatemala.

Responses by the Delegation

The delegation stressed that the Human Rights Advocate was governed by the Paris Principles and was an institution that Guatemala greatly respected.  It was in charge of the coordination of the executive in terms of human rights and also acted as a human rights defender.  Guatemala took seriously the judicial independence and training of judges, including in the context of forced evictions and the protection of the vulnerable groups and their rights.

On the matter of labour rights, the delegation recognized that the measures to close the wage gap were prevalent in practice but not in law, and added that awareness campaigns had been set in place to address the issue.  In 2015 and 2016, 840 labour inspections had taken place and over 26,000 visits had been conducted during which more than 111,000 employees had been contacted.  There had also been significant progress in the labour rights legal framework, notably through the enactment of a decree concerning the reform of the labour code.  There was a tripartite meeting of labour affairs where it was agreed that domestic work needed to be regulated especially because that was where child labour was rampant.

Responding to questions about the National Police Force, the delegation remarked that police officers had received sensitization on sexual orientation and gender identity issues, and were trained in addressing sexual orientation and gender identity-related crimes.  Murder rates of women had been decreased.  Guatemala was working on increasing the size of the police force to 49,000 by 2019, and 60,000 by 2026; the realization of this plan would depend on the availability of resources.

Complaints against the police officers were investigated by the police inspectorate so the appropriate punishments were handed down, including suspension without pay, or even dismissal in cases involving criminal offences.

The President of Guatemala had declared that the army would be withdrawn in the course of the month of March, said a delegate, stressing that the reason it was still deployed within the country because Guatemala represented a drug passageway for drugs into North America.

The data provided by the National Forensic Science Institute demonstrated that 7,423 complaints of sexual abuses had been filed by women and 822 by male victims in 2015; the following year 7,305 complaints had been from women and 839 from men; and finally in in 2017, women had filed 7,335 complaints and men 781. 

The judicial system was working to counteract the underreporting of sexual abuse cases.  Victims had a psychological follow-up so they were less likely to drop proceedings because of frustration with a slow-moving judicial process.  In 2016, 64 per cent of victims had dropped their cases, but in 2017 only 38 per cent had done so.  In 2016, a panic button application had been created for women to download onto their smartphones, or a hotline could also be called, which was used to report harassment. 

Maternal mortality rates had dropped from 108 to 106 per 100,000 live births since 2015, said a delegate, informing the Committee that each death was analysed to learn what went wrong and avoid doing the same mistake in the future.  The number of pregnant girls under the age of 14 had decreased in recent years, however 2,087 such pregnancies had been reported in 2017.  There were 254 centres for responsible motherhood and fatherhood, and a protocol with the Ministry of Education had also established to address those issues.

The indigenous groups were well represented in political staff.  The rule for an institution was to invite members of civil society in the drafting of public policy and include their voices in all the commissions and projects concerning human rights.  Guatemala had promoted a national day of celebration to pay tribute to the heritage of the indigenous peoples, and it had launched the ingenious development fund in an effort to increase the inclusion of indigenous peoples in the society.

Questions by Committee Experts

Committee Experts noted the difference in the way ordinary and specialized courts applied the law on violence against women and asked for age disaggregated data on complaints of violence against women including sexual violence, the investigations carried out in those cases, the remedies provided to victims and the steps taken to strengthen the National Coordination Body for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Violence against Women.  Was there any data related to femicide that would explain why women were so frequently the victims of violent murders.

In terms of abortion, the delegation was asked to explain how access to the voluntary termination of pregnancy was assured and what were the exceptions to the prohibition on abortion provided for by the law.  How were health workers and justice officials trained to this effect.  How many requests for legal voluntary terminations of pregnancy had been denied and for which reasons.  

Noting with concern a rapid growth in private security companies in Guatemala, which employed over 150,000 persons, Experts asked how those respected the Covenant rights, and how persons convicted of human rights violations or criminal activities could be prevented from working as private security guards. How the State ensured that their operations were within the law and what oversight mechanisms were in place.

What was the progress in abolishing the death penalty and what were the intentions of Guatemala in terms of acceding to the Second Optional Protocol to the Covenant.

With regards to the nature and impact of measures adopted to prevent and protect persons with disabilities against discrimination, Experts asked whether social services were provided on the basis of free and informed consent and how persons with disabilities were protected against arbitrary deprivation of liberty in care facilities on grounds of disability.  Was there an independent inspection mechanism to oversee the quality of care and supervision in mental health and social welfare institutions.  Had measures been adopted to ensure that all complaints of ill-treatment and abuse committed against persons with disabilities were investigated, perpetrators were prosecuted and punished and victims compensated.

Concerning trafficking in persons, a Committee Expert asked the State to provide information about the steps taken to prevent trafficking, particularly of women and children, to investigate instances of trafficking, to punish traffickers and protect and rehabilitate victims.  Also, what training had been provided to judges, police officers and other State agents in detecting, investigating and handling cases of trafficking in persons.

Experts raised concern about the serious overcrowding in prisons, up to 328 per cent in 2017, noting that there were five prisons with over 400 per cent occupancy rates.  Guatemala had to overhaul its penitentiary system, Experts urged, and adopt measures to reduce incarceration rates; separating men and women, and especially juveniles and adults was a must.  Violence in prisons was a great problem, with physical assaults, among them 127 violent deaths, a common occurrence.  There was also a high prevalence of gangs and lack of State’s control over the institutions, as in the case of a riot in which it had taken three days for officials to regain control of the prison. 

The rates of pre-trial detention were very high, and disproportionately so for women.  What was being done to ensure that pre-trial detention was used as a last resort measure.

There had been reports that the criteria used in the recent selection and appointment of high-level judicial authorities was neither objective nor transparent, noted an Expert, asking the delegation to comment on the fact that judges and prosecutors in high-impact cases had been targets of attacks.

How was structural violence being combatted by the State party and what steps were being taken to prevent and investigate lynching and prosecute and punish those responsible.  The Expert asked whether stricter limits on the acquisition and bearing of arms and ammunition by individuals were being set, and whether a national disarmament plan was being considered.

It had come to Experts’ attention that journalists and human rights defenders were under particular attack.  There was an intention to put in place a protection mechanism for these two groups that would address structural causes of violence.  Impunity for the crimes against these groups seemed to be comprehensive – what was the role of the Unit for the Analysis of Attacks against Human Rights Defenders in investigating cases in which human rights defenders had been victims of threats, attacks and/or murders.  What was being done to combat the smear campaigns and attacks against human rights defenders and journalists.  Were human rights defenders subject to arbitrary detention and accused of terrorism, land-grabbing, illegal confinement and involvement in organized crime.  Was the bill on the prevention of terrorism and corporate espionage in line with the Covenant.

In terms of the protection of minors in conflict with the law, the delegation was asked if they were accommodated in centres that facilitated their reintegration, whether detention was being used as a measure of last resort and for the shortest possible time, and about the measures taken to prevent violence in detention centres among children deprived of their liberty.

It was a matter of concern that 8.4 percent of children aged seven to 14 were working, particularly in rural areas, in farming and in domestic work.  The roadmap for the eradication of child labour was in place, Experts remarked and asked about the state of its implementation and other measures to eradicate the practice of child labour.  In this context, what was being done to ensure that all the births were registered especially of indigenous children.

Concerning the rights of indigenous peoples, the delegation was asked about the processes in place to ensure that the prior, free and informed consent of indigenous peoples was obtained in all decisions that affected them directly.  Experts also asked about the recognition of the right of indigenous peoples to acquire land titles, the reasons for which the State used state of emergency as a way to resolve social conflicts, steps to increase the number of indigenous persons who held decision-making positions, and if indigenous peoples had access to justice in their own language.

Could the State party provide information concerning the work of the Indigenous Affairs Unit of the Judiciary and the Department of Coordination with Indigenous Peoples and Civil Society and whether the Unit had sufficient human and financial resources to provide coverage for the entire country.

20 per cent of Guatemala’s public spending was not being used appropriately because of corruption.  There was concern that efforts to weaken the office of the Attorney General and structural delays in court cases posed obstacles to accountability in other human rights cases.  Would the Attorney General’s election be immune to corruption and be allowed to remain independent.  What specific measures had been adopted to fight corruption in politics and the judiciary.  How were the investigations of corruption cases being handled and what penalties had been handed down during the past five years.  Was there any information as to the strengthening of the justice system and the support afforded to the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala.

Responses by the Delegation

Responding, the delegation explained that sentences handed down by courts went along the lines of international and domestic law.  International treaties were included in the syllabus of judicial training, so judges were trained to implement the international treaties Guatemala was a party too, including the International Covenants.  Specific training was being provided to the judges on femicides.

With regard to the specialized courts for violence against women, additional judges had been sought out in response to an increased need by a growing population, said a delegate.  There were also community courts found in areas where indigenous people lived, which represented the communities; the community authorities in those places selected the judges to serve them.

Another delegate discussed the reform of the Constitutional Court stressing that it aimed to make it more responsive to the writ of amparo which aimed to protect individual rights, and also to reduce the number of resolved cases.

Labour inspections were being carried out to the benefit of workers and women in particular.  The Labour Inspectorates budget had remained stable and following the Labour Code Reform, it was hoped that the budget would be expanded.  In 2018, sanctions and punishments had been delivered to 72 different work places.

Referring to governmental programmes for returning migrants, a delegate said that “Ask and Check” programme helped Guatemalans deceived by recruitment processes, and there were other programmes to stop Guatemalans migrating to the United States and other countries.  The Secretariat for Social Welfare provided support for unaccompanied children and adolescent migrants, including shelters with a psychosocial care protocol, and the children also received educational support.

Abortion was criminalized in Guatemala and carried a sentence of up to 12 years imprisonment.  A bill to legalize abortion following the rape of an adolescent was before Congress.  Emergency contraception and family planning had been anticipated in legislation. Emergency contraception included contraception following rape as well as antibiotics to fight sexually transmitted diseases.  The delegation said that 1,519 cases of therapeutic abortion had been carried out in 2017 and included cases of women undergoing chemotherapy for cancer treatment and other cases where the life of the mother was in danger.

A contributing factor for the absence of swift judicial processes was the lack of judges - there were simply not enough to cover the large number of cases passed through the courts.  Judges had full independent power in all judiciary proceedings, said a delegate. 

Concerning the election of the new Attorney General, a 15-member committee including faculty from universities, a president of the bar association and chair of the ethics committee, all took part in the process, which had been completed in full transparency.  Each member of that committee had the interest of passing on an open and visible legacy to the future of Guatemala.  The Organization of American States was also providing support to the process and documents submitted to the committee had been sealed.  The assessment of the candidates for the position of the Attorney General had been carried out with great seriousness.

Guatemala had taken steps as prescribed by its international obligations, to remove the death penalty from the Constitution, and currently there were no offences under the law that were punishable by death.  The Bill 5100 on absolute abolition of the death penalty had had received a favourable opinion in the courts; it was currently awaiting a plenary opinion, and was scheduled soon to be enacted.

On the issue of pre-trial detention, the delegation explained that the reform of the Criminal Procedure Code had allowed for their extension.  Pre-trial detention was limited to three to five years, and could be extended once for a period of six months to one year.

Another delegate spoke about women in decision-making positions.  The Attorney General had finished her mandate this year and would not continue on, however women were still present in politics in great numbers.  41 per cent of the prosecutors were women and women held 66 per cent of decision-making positions in other areas of society.

Turning to violence against trade unionists, the delegation said that 85 violent deaths had been recorded.  To date, 27 convictions had been handed down and the motives behind those deaths of trade unionists were not linked to trade unionism, but were more personal.

Private security companies must comply with all applicable laws under the Labour Code, and were monitored by the Labour Inspectorate.  During the first two months of this year, working conditions had been audited in 68 private security companies, two of which had been sanctioned for not respecting their employee’s labour rights.

A social inclusion program sought to increase the employment of persons with disabilities, while under the labour inclusion plan, 315 persons with disabilities had been trained and 144 had found work.  There were also training programs to create self-employment opportunities.

The ratification of the International Labour Organisation Convention N°169 allowed for the consultation with the indigenous peoples in which over 2,000 indigenous leaders had participated.  This guide was the basis for the drafting of the Consultation Act, which was at its plenary hearing in Congress on 13 March.  The delegation explained that 31 entities in Guatemala provided support to indigenous communities, and indigenous people were present in Government ministries and state secretariats.  The Human Rights Advocate, Human Rights Institute, Congress of the Republic and decentralized institutions fought discrimination against indigenous peoples. A regular annual budget was provided to institutions supporting indigenous peoples and protecting their rights.

The delegation outlined the steps taken to ensure that a tragedy such as the fire in the orphanage at the Virgen de la Asunción Safe Home in San José Pinula never happened again.  A new residential home had been created with comprehensive support provided to children and adolescents.  Psychosocial support was given to the surviving children and measures were in place to strengthen families and prevent putting the children in the care of the State.  A programme to strengthen foster families to care for children with special needs would be made available.

Public defenders would be sent to areas around the detention centres for adolescents and children in conflict with the law. 

There was a national strategy and national development plan for women, as well as a national policy to promote women at the very highest levels.  In addition, 14 ministries were awarded more than 400 million quetzals for gender equality activities.  In 2017, a budget of 67 million quetzals was provided to address local-level gaps in women’s access to health, water and sanitation.  There was a plan to increase the budget and develop projects aiming to eradicate domestic violence.

Concluding Remarks

JORGE LUIS BORRAYO REYES, President of the Presidential Coordination Commission of Governmental Politics on Human Rights, in his concluding remarks thanked the Committee Experts and said that, given the over three decades of internal armed conflict, many significant challenges remained.  Development was the best pathway forward toward human rights and peace.

YUJI IWASAWA, Committee Chair, concluded by urging Guatemala to use this dialogue to better integrate the International Covenant in the Constitution, and said that particular concerns in relation to the implementation of the civil and political rights in the country included discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, femicide and gender based violence, accountability for past human rights violations, enforced disappearances, prevention of human rights abuses by private security forces, attacks against judges and prosecutors, and lynching and mistreatment of indigenous peoples.