Guatemala: +130 organizations condemn the criminalization of Abelino Chub for his work defending the right to land, territory and human rights
24.April.2019

 

The Americas, April 25, 2019.- On Monday, April 22, the Higher Risk Court “A” in Guatemala City open the trial of Abelino Chub Caal, a Maya Q’eqchi’ human rights defender working to protect the right to land, territory and rights of indigenous peoples. He was accused of aggravated land occupation, arson and criminal conspiracy. Abelino was arrested on February 4, 2017 by the National Civil Police of Guatemala, in the department of Alta Verapaz. On February 13 he was sent to pre-trial detention and has been in prison ever since.

His detention and imprisonment for more than two years is linked, according to the judicial authorities, to his alleged participation and incitement to occupy land and subsequently burn palm oil trees in El Estor, Izabal in northeastern Guatemala in August 2016. For this supposed crime, he is also being prosecuted for criminal conspiracy.

Abelino’s judicial process is set within the context of high social conflict related to the dispossession of land, by the extensive use of land for monocultures, the diversion of rivers for the construction of hydroelectric plants and nickel mining in the departments of Alta Verapaz and Izabal. For their part, the communities that inhabit these regions have repeatedly denounced land grabbing of their lands and the imposition of these kinds of activities for decades without the free, prior and informed consent and meaningful consultation of the communities, as established in Convention 169 of the ILO. On the contrary, they denounce violent evictions from their lands.

The signatories of this letter denounce the irregularities and lack of due process in the case of Abelino Chub, highlighting the fact that the Court of First Instance of Izabal, in July 2017, opposed the request of the Public Ministry to provisionally suspend the case, after noting the lack of sufficient evidence to make an accusation against Abelino. Judge Anibal Arteaga dismissed this request and ordered the proceeding to continue.

In addition to criminalization, Abelino, and the Guillermo Toriello Foundation of which he is a part, have been subject to aggression and threats. In June 2016, Abelino personally suffered a theft and an assassination attempt against him, and several members of the Foundation have been subject to defamation campaigns by large land owners and businessmen, among others. The judicial process against Abelino is another step to prevent communities from claiming their rights. The accusation and criminal prosecution of social and community leaders and land defenders has become another tool to stop their work of defense of human rights. In contrast, the aggressions against Abelino have not been considered or investigated diligently, demonstrating the arbitrariness in the functioning of the penal system.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has expressed its concern regarding the criminalization of human rights defenders for the impact that the malicious use of criminal law has to limit the exercise of the defense of human rights. The IACHR has highlighted the defense to the right to land and the environment by peasants and social leaders as contexts in which criminal law is abused.

We recall that the Special Rapporteur of the United Nations on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, after her visit to the country in May 2018, where she was able to meet with Abelino Chub, indicated that in Guatemala there is an "upsurge in the incidence of criminal proceedings against indigenous people defending their lands and resources [...]. In most cases, the underlying cause is the lack of security in land tenure of indigenous communities. Criminalization has produced an increase in social tensions and distrust of indigenous peoples in the justice system. "

We urge the State of Guatemala to guarantee the rights of the indigenous and peasant communities of the country, as well as the right to defend human rights in its territory. As reiterated by the IACHR and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OACNUDH), the IACHR and the OHCHR, "States have an obligation to protect and guarantee the life and personal integrity of human rights defenders through the adoption of specific measures.”

In particular, we urge the Guatemalan justice system to stop and desist from the judicial process initiated in 2017 against Abelino Chub, immediately ceasing the criminalization against him, and investigating the irregularities developed during the process.

Finally, we express our solidarity with Abelino Chub, and with all the communities of the departments of Alta Verapaz and Izabal, who exercise the legitimate defense of their territories and their rights.

 

Subscribing organizations:

Canada
Above Ground
Atlantic Region Solidarity Network
BC CASA/Café Justicia
Comité por los Derechos Humanos en América latina (CDHAL)
Consensus Multimedia
Fronteras Comunes
Grassroots Grandmothers Circle, Mi’kma’ki
Guatemala Community Network (GCN)
KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives
Maritimes - Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network
Mining Injustice Solidarity Network (MISN)
Rights Action
Todos por Guatemala
United for Mining Justice

Chile
Observadores por el Cierre de la Escuela de las Américas

Colombia
Corporación Claretiana Norman Pérez Bello (CCNPB)
Corporación Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo (CAJAR)
Corporación Trabajadores por la Tierra
Funtramiexco
Movimiento Nacional de Víctimas de Corporaciones Multinacionales

Costa Rica
Comité de Apoyo a la Autonomía Indígena
Beso Diverso
Justicia, Paz e Integridad de la Creación (CLARET)
Observatorio Ético Caribe y América Central (OBETICA)
Reflexión en Acción
The Handmaids Costa Rica

Ecuador
Centro de Documentación en Derechos Humanos "Segundo Montes Mozo S.J." (CSMM)
Comisión Ecuménica de Derechos Humanos (CEDHU)

Spain
AlterNativa Intercambio con Pueblos Indígenas
Equipo Guam
OBETI - Observatorio Ético Internacional

United States of America
ActionAid USA
Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America
Despertar Maya
Guatemala Human Rights Commission
Guatemala Solidarity Project
Latin America Solidarity Committee
Latin America Working Group (LAWG)
Native American Films
Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA)
Oberlin Students in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala
School of the Americas Watch (SOAW)
Solidarity Group for Indigenous Justice
S.O.S. Immigration
The Human Rights Defenders Project (HRDP)
Voces y Manos

France
Collectif Guatemala

Guatemala
Asociación B’elejeb’ Tz’i’i
Asociación Bufete Jurídico Popular de Rabinal
Asociación Civil Caja Lúdica
Asociación de Estudiantes Universitarios “Oliverio Castañeda de León” (AEU)
Asociación de profesionales para el desarrollo y prevención de la violencia en Suchitepequez (APDAS MANOS FRATERNAS)
Asociación Estoreña Para el Desarrollo Integral - AEPDI DEFENSORÍA Q'EQCHI'
Asociacion Ixchel
Asociación Maya Uk´u´x B´e
Asociación para el Mejoramiento Habitacional de Guatemala (Mejorha)
Asociación Sobrevivencia Cultural
Bufete para Pueblos Indígenas
Centro Para la acción Legal en Derechos Humanos (CALDH)
Centro de Investigación y Educación Popular (CIEP)
CODECA
Colectiva de Mujeres Feministas, integrantes del Sector de Mujeres
Comité Campesino del Altiplano (CCDA)
Comité de Unidad Campesina (CUC)
CONGCOOP
Convergencia por los Derechos Humanos
Coordinación y Convergencia Nacional Maya Waqib' kej
Equipo de Estudios Comunitarios y Acción Psicosocial (ECAP)
Festivales Solidarios
Frente Norte del Área Metropolitana de Guatemala (FRENAM)
Fundación Guillermo Toriello
Fundación Myrna Mack (FMM)
H.I.J.O.S. Guatemala
Instituto Amaq’
Instituto de Estudios Comparados en Ciencias Penales
Las Poderosas Teatro
Movimiento de Acción Sancarlista
Movimiento Ecológico Estudiantil (MEE)
OASIS Guatemala
Otra Guatemala Ya
Peronia Adolescente
Prensa Comunitaria
Radio Urbana
Redes juveniles / Rj metamorfosis
Red de Intelectuales y Artistas en Defensa de la Humanidad
Red Guatemalteca Mujeres Positivas en Acción
Red Panal
Red Tz'ikin - Realizadores-as Independientes de Guatemala
Seguridad en Democracia (SEDEM)
SOMOS
Unidad de Protección a Defensoras y Defensores de Derechos Humanos de Guatemala UDEFEGUA
Unión Nacional de Mujeres Guatemaltecas (UNAMG)
UsacEsPueblo

Honduras
Centro de Estudios de la Mujer-Honduras (CEMH)
Coalición contra la Impunidad
Comité por la Libre Expresión (C-Libre)
Comisión de Agua Segura y Saneamiento (CASS)
Comunicación Comunitaria (COMUN)
Coordinadora de Organizaciones Populares del Aguan (COPA)
Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras (COPINH)
Equipo de Reflexión, Investigación y Comunicación de la Compañía de Jesús en Honduras (ERIC-SJ)
Mesa de Indignación de El Progreso (MIP)
Movimiento Amplio por la Dignidad y la Justicia
Movimiento de Mujeres Visitación Padilla
Plataforma Agraria Bajo Aguan Honduras
Red Nacional de Defensoras de Derechos humanos en Honduras

Irland
Front Line Defenders

Mexico
Laboratorio Popular de Medios Libres
Noticias de Abajo ML

Panama
Colectivo Voces Ecológicas (COVEC)

Peru
Paz y Esperanza

Sweden
Movimiento Sueco por la Reconciliación, SweFOR Guatemala

Switzerland
Guatemala-Netz Zurich
Plataforma Internacional Contra la Impunidad
Peace Watch Switzerland (PWS)

Venezuela
Acción Solidaria
CIVILIS Derechos Humanos

Regional
Centro por la Justicia y el Derecho Internacional
Colectivo Latinoafricano de Educación Popular
Comité de América Latina y el Caribe para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos de las Mujeres
Cultural Survival
Fundación para el Debido Proceso (DPLF)
Latinoamérica Rompe el Cerco
Misioneros Claretianos
Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)

International
Comisión Internacional de Juristas (CIJ)
JASS (Just Associates)