Stop forcibly evicting communities in Alta Verapaz

by xenatisch

11 April 2011

Ing. Juan Alfonso De León, Minister of Agriculture
Lic. Carlos Menocal, Minister of Interior

RE: Stop forcibly evicting communities in Alta Verapaz

Dear Ing. Juan Alfonso De León and Lic. Carlos Menocal

I am deeply concerned about the recent reports of forced evictions of around 12 rural communities in the municipality of Panzós, Department of Alta Verapaz, Guatemala. I understand that the evictions were carried out in violation of international human rights standards and that the evicted communities currently do not have access to shelter, water or food. I am also disturbed about reports of the death of Antonio Beb Ac, a community member, during one of the forced evictions.

Guatemala’s international human rights obligations require the government to provide communities due to be affected by evictions with full and timely information about government proposals, to engage in a genuine negotiation with the community to explore all alternatives to eviction, and to offer full compensation or alternative, adequate housing. Guatemala is a party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and is therefore obliged to ensure that evictions do not result in individuals being rendered homeless or vulnerable to the violation of other human rights.

I therefore urge you to:

  • Stop all evictions until appropriate safeguards and procedures are put in place in accordance with Guatemala’s human rights obligations to protect the rights of those who will be evicted.
  • Carry out an impartial and thorough investigation into the death of Antonio Beb Ac, with the results made public and those responsible brought to justice.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely yours,

Pouria Hadjibagheri

Political and Civil Rights Activist
Member of Amnesty International and Reporters without Borders