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Guatemala: Guatemalan lawyer Quelvin Jiménez threatened for his work to promote indigenous rights.
30th of July, 2019.
Quelvin Jiménez, lawyer from Santa Rosa, southwestern Guatemala, defends the rights to land and territory of Xinca People. He is subject to numerous threats as part of his activities to defend the community’s rights in mining projects in southern Guatemala.
Indeed, he requires the full participation of the Xinca People in the consultation process, as well as a greater transparency in mining companies’ projects.
For several months, the lawyer is subject to judicial harassment, media stigmatization and smear campaign.
Pan American Silver (Canadian mining company) filed a complaint against him in December 2018. The company requested the Supreme Court and the Guatemalan National Bar to sanction him for acting in bad faith in his work to defend Xinca People’s rights. However, the complaint was dismissed by the Supreme Court considering that the lawyer didn’t act in bad faith.
Furthermore, Quelvin Jiménez is receiving death threats and other forms of intimidation. This harassment includes callings, continuous monitoring of his home, or the presence of a gunman near his home. Indeed, on the 6th of May, 2019, an armed man, previously seen near Quelvin’s house chased him on a motorcycle.
However, the investigations conducted by the police still remain unresolved. The lawyer has filed a criminal complaint to the Guatemalan authorities following reception of telephone death threats, but no protection measures have been established ever since.
On the 23rd of May, 2019, Quelvin Jiménez has reported that a group of people, carrying small arms and machetes, disrupted a meeting of the Xinca Indigenous People authorities in Jumaytepeque, Santa Rosa, threatening and beating some of the participants. Nevertheless, this new aggression has not lead to an investigation by the authorities to identify the perpetrators and the motivations.
Twelve Guatemalan and international associations, as Guatemala Human rights Commission, MiningWatch Canada or the International Platform against impunity, gave voice to the concerns about the physical safety of the lawyer and other community members. They call on the Guatemalan authorities to ensure the safety of the lawyer and those involved in the consultation process so that they can take place without coercion, intimidation or threat.
The International Observatory of Lawyers in Danger (IOLD) fully supports the lawyer Quelvin Jiménez and expresses its deepest concern about the threats facing him.
The IOLD encourages participation in Amnesty International’s urgent action to call on the Attorney’s office to investigate these attacks and guarantee Quelvin’s protection.
The IOLD urges Guatemalan authorities to take all necessary measures to protect Quelvin Jiménez and to comply with the United Nations’ Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, according to which:
- “Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; (…) (c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics” (Principle n°16);
- “Where the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities” (Principle n°17).