U.S. SENATE CALLS ON GUATEMALA TO ADDRESS MURDERS OF WOMEN
March 11, 2008 – Washington, DC – In commemoration of International Women’s Day, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed Senate Resolution 178 (S. Res. 178) last night, highlighting the more than 2,000 unsolved murders of women and girls in Guatemala since 2001. The number of women killed in Guatemala has nearly doubled in seven years. Many of the victims are subjected to brutal torture, mutilation, and sexual violence before their death.
The bipartisan Resolution, introduced by Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and cosponsored by 13 other Senators, expresses condolences to the relatives of victims; condemns the murders; and encourages the Guatemalan Government to promptly investigate these killings, prosecute those responsible, and continue to work toward eliminating violence against women. While the Guatemalan government has taken positive steps to address this phenomenon in recent years, the overwhelming majority of cases are still filed away , and fewer than fifty have gone to trial. In fact, in some instances, investigators have intimidated and threatened family members seeking justice.
“Senate Resolution 178 represents the kind of international pressure needed to end the Guatemalan authorities’ tolerance for the killings of women. Hopefully, this Resolution will incite the new government to bolster efforts to prevent gender-based violence, investigate cases, and bring the perpetrators to justice,” said Marty Jordan, co-director of the Guatemala Human Rights Commission/USA (GHRC).
Beyond stressing the need for improved investigations and prosecutions, the Resolution calls on the Guatemalan government to establish a comprehensive Missing Persons System and an effective Witness Protection Program for witnesses, victims’ relatives, and human rights defenders. It also encourages Guatemalan lawmakers to adequately fund the National Institute for Forensic Science (INACIF), which will train lab personnel in investigatory and evidence gathering protocols in the hopes of finding and prosecuting the assailants of these crimes. Finally, S.Res. 178 recommends that the US Secretary of State develop a comprehensive plan to address the growing problem of violence against women throughout all of Latin America.
GHRC, in conjunction with other human rights organizations, led the grassroots campaign to mobilize Americans to urge their lawmakers to support S. RES. 178. Since 2004, GHRC has raised awareness about the alarming rate of gender-based violence in Guatemala and provided concerned US citizens avenues to apply international pressure on the Guatemalan government. For further information, please contact Marty Jordan at 202.529.6599.