May 10 will mark the one year anniversary of the conviction of former President Rios Montt for genocide. 10 days after the original conviction, the verdict was annulled. Rios Montt is now under house arrest, awaiting a proposed trial set for January 2015.

Women human rights defenders have come under significant threat, especially in their quest to shatter widespread impunity in Guatemala. Under the rule of current President Pérez Molina, between 2012-2013, attacks on human rights defenders have jumped 126%, the largest increase in post-war Guatemala.

Last month, the Guatemalan Bar Association suspended Yasmin Barrios, the chief magistrate in the Rios Montt trial, who found him guilty of genocide. A member of Rios Montt’s defense team, Moises Galindo, filed the initial complaint that silenced Barrios.

Guatemala’s Nobel Peace Laureate, Rigoberta Menchu Tum, issued a statement (through her foundation) calling the suspension, a blatant violation of the legal institutions and rule of law in our country.”

The recent term truncation of Attorney General Claudia Paz Y Paz, another leading figure in the prosecution of Rios Montt, provides more evidence of the continued erosion of the legal system and human rights in the country.


Laureate Jody Williams with Paz Y Paz


Paz Y Paz has worked tirelessly to bring justice to survivors of gender violence, entering office in 2009 with an impunity homicide rate of 95%, decreasing it to 72% in 2012. Paz Y Paz’s term was cut short by a complaint filed by a growing right-wing movement in Guatemala.

This week, the finalist list for the next  Attorney General was released and despite a numerical score that made her the second-most favoured candidate, Paz Y Paz was not on the shortlist. Audio evidence has emerged that strongly alleges executive interference in the selection of the next Attorney General. Paz Y Paz’s shortened term will force her out of office May 19.

Rios Montt was tried for his alleged role in orchestrating a genocide which killed of more than 1700 Ixil Mayan people in the 1980sTestimony from last year’s trial also implicated current President Pérez Molina in the atrocities. Molina denies that a genocide took place in Guatemala.


Guatemalan Attorney General Paz y Paz: Punished for being effective on big crimes?, Tico Times, May 3, 2014.

Guatemala: Suppressing Dissent At Home and Abroad-Analysis, Eurasia Review, April 28, 2014.

A year after genocide trial: has justice been done? CNN, May 3, 2014.

Rigoberta Menchu Tum denounces Judge Barrios suspension, Nobel Women’s Initiative, April 10, 2014.

Watch “The Verdict”, a documentary which shows the trial and conviction of Rios Montt in May 2013.


Select a phrase or paragraph of the genocide sentence (English Translation) that you consider to be important and share on social media and post the video on the anniversary page to show your solidarity 

Share and engage in the conversation on May 10 using #SentenciaPorGenocidio, #YesItWasGenocide, #Sihubogenocidio

For more information on what you can do from the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala

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