Violations of the rights of Indigenous Peoples persisted. Some successful prosecutions were brought for human rights violations committed during the period of internal armed conflict (1960-1996). Human rights defenders were threatened, intimidated and attacked.
Presidential, congressional and local government elections were held in September. Retired General Otto Pérez Molina was declared the winner in the run-off presidential election in November and was due to take office in January 2012.
High levels of violent crime, gang violence and drug-related violence persisted. The authorities recorded 5,681 homicides during the year. Conflict between drug-trafficking organizations often gave rise to torture and killings. In May, at a farm in El Naranjo, Petén Department, armed men killed and decapitated 27 labourers. The violence was attributed to a dispute between drug traffickers and the farm owner.
It was widely reported that street gangs, known as maras, were involved in extortion and violent crime in communities living in poverty. Efforts by the police to stem the violence were widely viewed as ineffective.
At the end of the year, 13 prisoners remained on death row. No executions had taken place since 2000 and President Colom had vetoed a number of bills proposing that executions resume. However, President-elect Molina announced he would resume executions on taking office.Top of page
Indigenous Peoples’ rights continued to be violated in the context of land disputes and development projects which were undertaken without consultation and the free, prior and informed consent of affected communities. In March, the UN Special Rapporteur on indigenous people noted the high level of instability and social conflict connected with the activities of mining companies on Indigenous lands. He called on the authorities to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ territorial rights and ensure their participation in decision-making processes.
There was progress in some prosecutions for human rights violations committed during the internal armed conflict. The army declassified a number of documents in July. However, documents relating to the period 1980 to 1985, the years which saw the vast majority of human rights violations, were not made available.
According to the authorities, 631women were the victims of homicide during the year. The 2008 Law against Femicide and Other Forms of Violence against Women which, among other things, introduced special courts for violence against women, seemed to have had little impact on either reducing violence against women or holding those responsible to account.Top of page
Those defending human rights, including journalists and trade unionists, continued to be threatened, harassed and attacked. Local organizations documented 402 such incidents.