Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Guatemala: Amnesty Internatinal calls for suspension of evictions and genuine agrarian reform

After touring Guatemala for two weeks, Amnesty International issued a condemnation of serious irregularities, human rights violations and discriminatory treatment of Guatemalan peasants and rural workers, during judicial procedures that result in the implementation of eviction orders.

Among the problems cited were:

Shortcomings in of the Labour Inspectorate operations to ensure that wages, compensation and benefits are regularly paid, in accordance with the law, on all Guatemala’s farms.

Shortcomings and delays in dealing with requests for the payment of benefits, circumstances which provoke lead to land occupations in support of these demands.

The inadequate response of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, which often brings charges of “"usurpation”" and aggravated “"usurpation”" in a mechanical, rapid and systematic way, resulting in warrants for the arrest and eviction of hundreds of families from lands they have often occupied for generations. It is worrying that these actions follow neither the letter nor the spirit of Convention 169 of the International Labour OfficeOrganisation.

Evidence to suggest that the validity of incomplete and doubtful land title claims are not studied with due diligence. In certain cases, verification of the disputed land by the competent authorities is impeded by farm owners, yet eviction orders are still issued and executed.

Complaints by peasants rural workers about the lack of attention to, and investigation of, their denunciations of death threats and other acts of intimidation by farm owners and their employees and private security agents.

The almost systematic destruction of belongings and domestic goods and the burning of homes, during evictions.

A decade after the peace agreement was signed in Guatemala, indigenous and rural workers are still not receiving justice.


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