A message from our Executive Director Marlies Stappers
As we bid farewell to 2019, we are grateful for the work we have been able to do this year, hand-in-hand with our committed partners, colleagues and supporters. Without you, many of the results we have been able to achieve would not have been possible. We are fully committed to reinforcing our strategy for 2020 and look forward to continuing our joint efforts.
Guidelines on transformative reparations for survivors of sexual violence: research report
This recent report by Impunity Watch, available in English and Spanish, analyses the international standards with regard to reparations for survivors of sexual violence and serious human rights violations committed during internal armed conflicts. The report is primarily addressed to justice operators and prosecutors in legal proceedings. It provides key elements for the design and implementation of transformative reparation measures in cases of sexual violence during armed conflict.
Maya Achi women file complaint of racism and discrimination against lead judge
On 5 December 2019, Maya Achi women survivors of sexual violence committed during Guatemala’s internal armed conflict (1960-1996) filed a complaint against Judge Claudette Dominguez for acts of discrimination and racism against them during their case (known as the Maya Achi women case) hearings that took place in 2019.
ISIS prosecutions: putting Iraqi and Syrian victims’ rights first
Impunity Watch, PAX for Peace and the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression co-organised a side-event on “ISIS prosecutions: putting Iraqi and Syrian victims’ rights first” at the 18th session of Assembly of States Parties to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on 3 December 2019 in The Hague.
Report: Impunity remains an obstacle for justice and gender equality in the Balkans
Impunity for past and present violence against women remains a main obstacle for justice and gender equality throughout the Balkans region; while responses by the international community have been too narrow and are lacking long-term political support, says a new report by Impunity Watch.
Survivors of sexual violence have the right to transformative reparations
On the occasion of the 19th Anniversary of the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325, Impunity Watch, UN Women and Oxfam Guatemala organised a forum on the importance of transformative reparation for women survivors of sexual violence, on 29 October 2019 in Guatemala City. Impunity Watch presented its most recent publication on transformative reparation guidelines for survivors of sexual violence.
Impunity Watch organises a public forum in Guatemala on the right to transformative reparation for survivors of sexual violence
On the occasion of the 19th anniversary of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, Impunity Watch, UN Women and OXFAM Guatemala are holding a public forum on 30 October 2019 to examine the importance of this resolution and the rights of survivors of sexual violence in conflicts, justice and transformative reparation. During the event Impunity Watch will launch its new report on dignified and transformative reparation guidelines for survivors of sexual violence
Event: Big Latin America Debate II: The Kingdom and its Neighbours
Co-Organisers: Impunity Watch, Both ENDS, Free Press Unlimited, CNV International, Hivos, Vice Versa and Nicaragua Platform NIMD.
Speakers: Thijs Berman, Dr. Eva van Roekel, Dr. Fabio de Castro, Joël Vrijhoff, Pamela Kalkman, Marlies Stappers, Edwin Koopman, Marit Maij, Prof. Barbara Hogenboom, Achraf Bouali, Bram van Ojik, and Sadet Karabulut.
Date: Monday 14 October 2019 from 15.00 - 17.30 hours
Place: Lange Poten 10, 2511 CL, Den Haag
Spoken Language: Dutch
Seminar: The truth about the migrant caravans in Central America
Co-Organisers: Impunity Watch and the International Institute of Social Sciences (ISS)
Speaker: Bartolo Fuentes, Honduras
Date: Monday 30 September 2019 from 15.30 - 17.00 hours
Place: ISS, Kortenaerkade 12, 2518 AX Den Haag, room 3.01
Spoken Language: Spanish, some whisper translation available
In Memory of Ralph Sprenkels
Last week we heard the devastating news that our valued former colleague and friend, Ralph Sprenkels, passed away. We still cannot fully comprehend that Ralph is no longer with us. His passing is a tremendous loss, first and foremost, for his family, loved ones and friends, but also for all those who had the privilege to work with him or who were witness to his incredible work. Our heartfelt sympathies and deepest solidarity.
Impunity Watch brings together Guatemalan and international experts to discuss strategic litigation for the protection of human rights and social transformation
Impunity Watch organised an international seminar on “Strategic Litigation for Protection of Human Rights and Social Transformation” on 22-23 August in Guatemala City. National and international experts focused on successful strategic litigation cases, lessons learned from Guatemala as well as best practices that could be applied in other contexts.
Impunity Watch sensitises Burundian communities on women’s leadership and rights; prioritises victim participation in transitional justice in the DRC
Throughout the month of August 2019 our gender team in Burundi co-organised with our local partner Association Dushirehamwe two trainings for local communities on women’s leadership and their rights. In addition, we organised a workshop on the role of victims in transitional justice processes in South Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Joint Press Release: The Supreme Court of Justice must respect the independence of the Guatemala Constitutional Court
Several international organisations express their concern over the constant attacks against the independence of the Constitutional Court. They said that the recent complaint presented by the Permanent Commission of the Congress of the Republic against Magistrates Bonerge Mejía, Gloria Porras and Francisco De Matta Vela is unjustified and violates article 167 of the Amparo Law, which states that “Magistrates of this Court cannot be prosecuted for the opinions expressed in the exercise of the position.”
Syrian activists and international experts examine violations of property rights in Syria; look into ways to address them
Impunity Watch and PAX for Peace co-organised a two-day expert meeting on property rights in Syria on 16-17 July in The Hague, bringing together 35 Syrian activists and international experts. Participants extensively discussed the legal obstacles and threats to Housing, Land and Property (HLP) Rights in Syria and brainstormed on the way forward and possible next steps to address the existing challenges.
Joint Press Release: Guatemala's Supreme Court of Justice must guarantee judicial independence of Judge Pablo Xitumul
In a joint press release issued on 8 July 2019, international organisations urged the Guatemalan Supreme Court of Justice to dismiss the complaint filed against Judge Pablo Xitumul and to reject future unfounded legal actions aimed at discrediting and intimidating judges who fulfilled their duties and challenged existing power structures.
Guatemalan judge dismisses charges in the Maya Achi sexual violence case
On 21 June 2019, Guatemalan Judge Claudette Domínguez ruled that there was insufficient evidence to send six former members of the Civil Defence Patrols to trial for sexual violence against 36 Maya Achi women in Rabinal committed between 1981 and 1985 - when State violence against indigenous communities was at its worst. The victims are set to appeal the decision on 26 June.
Victims and survivors demand justice on the National Day Against Enforced Disappearance in Guatemala
Victims and survivors of the armed conflict in Guatemala commemorated the National Day Against Enforced Disappearance on 21 June 2019. A Mayan ceremony was led by an Ajq´ij, a spiritual leader, to remember and honour the 45,000 victims who were forcibly disappeared by the State of Guatemala during the internal armed conflict. Following the ceremony, victims and survivors held a press conference during which they demanded justice for the cruel crime committed against their loved ones.
Civil Society activists to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Victims should be at the heart of any justice process
Connecting civil society activists and victims at the grassroots level with international policy leaders is an essential component in the fight against impunity and in ensuring more efficient justice processes. This direct engagement paves the way for solid advocacy for victims’ rights and helps policymakers better understand local needs and aspirations. In line with this approach, Impunity Watch hosted a civil society meeting with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Ms. Michelle Bachelet on 16 May 2019 in The Hague.
Joint Press Release: The Government of Guatemala Should Guarantee the Protection and Access to the Historic Archive of the National Police
On 30 May 2019, international organizations issued a joint press release expressing their profound concern regarding the risks facing the Historic Archive of the National Police (Archivo Histórico de la Policía Nacional, AHPN) in Guatemala, given the recent declarations of the Minister of the Interior, who announced that the terms of the agreement for the administration of the AHPN will be changed and the national and international public’s access to the information will be restricted because it contains information that is “sensitive for State security.”
The path to justice continues for Maya Achi women
On 22 and 23 April 2019, the hearings of the intermediate stage of the case of sexual violence against 36 Maya-Achi women from the region of Rabinal, Baja Verapaz took place in High-Risk Court “A” in Guatemala City. The accused in this case are six former members of the Civil Defense Patrols (PAC for its initials in Spanish) from the indigenous region of Rabinal.
Iraqi women activists to create common narrative of SGBV in Iraq
Impunity Watch with its partner the Iraqi Al-Amal Association organised a five-day workshop in Beirut from 29 March 2019 to 2 April 2019 entitled: “Engendering Justice in Iraq.” Fifteen Iraqi women activists were trained on new techniques for interviewing, collecting testimonies, and storytelling for survivors of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV). Ultimately, the participants will contribute to producing common narrative of SGBV in Iraq, which will serve as an evidence base for a wide range of stakeholders working on transformative strategies to address impunity for SGBV in the country).
Impunity watch organises a forum on truth commissions in Latin America and international justice
Impunity Watch organised a forum on “Truth Commissions in Latin America and International Justice” on 4 March 2019 at the Museum of the University of San Carlos de Guatemala (MUSAC) in Guatemala, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the report “Guatemala: Memory of Silenced” released by the country’s Commission for Historic Clarification (CEH in Spanish).
Hundreds march for truth and justice in Guatemala
More than 600 individuals from victim and survivor groups as well as local organisations participated in the “March for truth and Justice” on 25 February 2019; commemorating the Day of Dignity for Victims of the Internal Armed Conflict. They called for restoring the dignity of victims through justice, truth and reparations. They also voiced their objection to proposed amendment (No. 5377) to the National Reconciliation Law that would grant amnesty to perpetrators convicted of serious human rights violations committed during the internal armed conflict in Guatemala.
Press Release | Guatemala: The Congress must refrain from passing the “Amnesty Law” today
The Hague, 13 March 2019 – Impunity Watch is deeply concerned about the possible passage of a proposed amendment to the National Reconciliation Law (or “Amnesty Law”) in the Congress of Guatemala today. Impunity Watch urges the international community to take a firm stance in the defence of the rule-of-law and human rights in Guatemala, and to publicly urge the legislature to refrain from approving these amendments.
Impunity Watch and partners organise Policy Forums in DRC to put transitional justice on the political agenda
On 26 and 28 February 2019, Impunity Watch and our Congolese partners organised two Policy Forums in the cities of Butembo and Beni in North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Politico-administrative authorities, judicial authorities, and political actors gathered to discuss the results and recommendations from our research on transitional justice in the DRC.
Impunity Watch commemorates the 20th anniversary of the Report of the Commission for Historical Clarification (CEH)
In the framework of the 20th anniversary of the Report of the Commission for Historical Clarification (CEH), Impunity Watch cordially invites you to the Forum: Truth Commissions in Latin America and International Justice, which will be held on Monday, February 25 at 4 p.m. in the Greater Hall of MUSAC (9a.A. 9-79, zone). Members of the truth commissions of Colombia, Peru and Guatemala will be participating in the event. Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. RigobertaMenchú will be delivering the opening remarks.
Impunity Watch releases new report on threats to judicial independence in Guatemala
On 13 February Impunity Watch presented the second report of the Observatory of Judicial Independence entitled: “Judges in High Risk [Courts]: Threats to Judicial Independence in Guatemala.” The Ambassador of the Netherlands Peter Derrek Hof had an opening speech in which he emphasized the importance of protecting judges to ensure judicial independence and rule of law. Speakers at the event also included Magistrate of the Supreme Court Delia Dávila; Judge of First Instance of the High-Risk Court Miguel Angel Gálvez; and expert Leonel González from the Justice Studies Center of the Americas (JSCA).
Sustainable Peace and Development after massive human rights violations: making the case for transitional justice
On 8 February, at the Peace Palace in The Hague, the high-level international Task Force on Justice will meet to finalize its report on increasing access to justice for people and communities around the world—or reducing the “justice gap”—as an integral element of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Victims and civil society in Guatemala reject a general amnesty for human rights violations
One hundred organisations of victims and civil society strongly reject the intent of the Guatemalan Congress to approve a general amnesty for all the convicted war criminals. This represents a setback in Guatemala and a threat to victims, prosecutors and judges.
Court hearings due in case concerning sexual violence against 36 Maya Achi indigenous women
The case of sexual violence committed against 36 indigenous women of the Maya Achi of community in Guatemala is in an intermediate stage. From 29 to 30 January 2019, hearings will be held against six former civil patrols (paramilitaries) accused of sexual violence and crimes against humanity against a group of Maya Achi women from the Rabinal region, during the internal armed conflict.
Read our informative note on the case in Spanish.
International organisations condemn the serious threats against democracy in Guatemala
In a joint statement issued on 9 January 2019, Impunity Watch together with other international organisations dedicated to the protection of human rights in Guatemala, strongly condemn the most recent series of actions taken by the Executive Branch, which have systematically violated the fundamental principles of democracy, separation of powers, independence of public institution, and respect for international norms.
The full statement is available in English and Spanish (original).