Guatemala: ICJ conducts high level mission to urge new safeguards against enforced disappearance and ensure the rights of victims

From 6 – 9 September 2021, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) conducted a high-level mission to Guatemala to promote the adoption of laws and mechanisms to ensure the protection of rights of victims of enforced disappearance.

Alejandro Salinas, CIJ Commissioner of Chile; Francisca Sánchez, CIJ Guatemala legal advisor; Juana Lopez CIJ intern; Guillermo Castillo, Vice President of Guatemala

The mission, was led by Alejandro Salinas Rivera, ICJ Commissioner, and Francisca Sánchez, legal advisor to the ICJ in Guatemala. They urged the speedy advocated for the ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED) through the approval of the Initiative 3736.

The initiative, which was presented by the Government in 2007, has been endorsed by the Foreign Relations Committee of Congress as it continues through the legislative process.

The mission also sought to promote the creation of a “Commission to Search for Persons, Victims of Enforced Disappearance and Other Forms of Disappearance”, through the approval of Initiative 3590 proposed in 2007.

The mission met with:

  • The Vice President of the Republic, Guillermo Castillo, to address the need for ratification of the ICPPED;
  • Deputies from Congress, who committed to review the initiatives; the Procurador General (Head of the institution that protects human rights), who explained his Office’s actions to guarantee victims’ rights;
  • Judges from the Association of Judges for Integrity who denounced the threats made against judges and the persecution those who prosecute serious human rights violations have suffered; and
  • Civil Society Organizations that advocate towards the ratification of the ICPPED and the approval of the Commission, who expressed their concern about the lack of approval of these initiatives as well as the institutional crisis and lack of historical memory in Guatemala.

The Mission took place within the framework of the project “Promoting justice for extrajudicial executions and forced disappearances in Guatemala, Colombia and Peru”, which ICJ implements with the European Union’s support.

Shalom de León, Unsplash

The ICJ has also recommended to strengthen the work of the “Procuraduría de los Derechos Humanos” as the Office protect the rights of victims of human rights violations and to support the work carried out by the Search Unit of the Office.

In addition, enhanced measures were needed to guarantee the independence and impartiality of judges and prevent the threats and persecution against judges who handle cases of serious human rights violations.


Francisca Sánchez, Legal Adviser at CIJ for Latin America,

Carolina Villadiego Burbano, Legal Adviser at CIJ for Latin America