ACT Guatemala Forum supports investigation into crimes against women

Statement in solidarity with the women witnesses in the Sepur Zarco case in Guatemala

As faith-based organisations, the ACT Alliance Guatemala Forum has expressed their solidarity with the women witnesses in the Sepur Zarco case in Guatemala.

In a trial initiated in Guatemala in February 2016, eleven indigenous Maya Q’eqchi’ women have stood up and are asking for justice for a serious of grave crimes committed against them during the civil war in the 1980s, including sexual and domestic slavery. This trial is historic since it marks the first time that a national tribunal is investigating crimes of sexual violence perpetrated in the context of an armed conflict in the same country.

During the civil war in Guatemala, these women were denied their rights as civilians and non-combatants to be protected by International Humanitarian Law. During a period of several years they were subjected to repeated violations of their human rights and were forced to survive under degrading circumstances that caused severe pain and suffering.

As ACT Alliance, we greet and celebrate the efforts made by the Public Prosecutors Office in Guatemala as well as the efforts made by Guatemalan civil society organisations who have worked tirelessly to investigate and prepare the Sepur Zarco trial.

We express our support and admiration for the witnesses who have shown great dignity and bravery in coming forward to tell of the horrors that they lived through during the civil war; and we ask the international community, the United Nations, international civil society organisations and other actors to closely follow, monitor and accompany this process to reveal the truth and obtain justice for the grave crimes committed against these women.

The human rights violations carried out against the women of Sepur Zarco cannot be undone, but we can all join forces to work for justice and do our best to ensure that these crimes against humanity are never repeated.