War Crime Trials Strengthen Justice in Guatemala

By Dialogo
April 12, 2013

The trials for crimes committed during the Guatemalan Civil War (1960-1996) are strengthening the judiciary system, said a statement published on April 10 by the U.S. Embassy in the Central American nation in reference to the legal proceedings for genocide linked to former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt.

“In recent years, Guatemala has made significant advances to strengthen its legal system by bringing those responsible for crimes committed during the internal armed conflict before justice,” the statement added.

According to the statement, the U.S. reiterated the “importance of justice for the Guatemalan reconciliation, where about 200,000 people died or disappeared during the period when the armed conflict took place,” according to a U.N. report.

“The United States supports legal proceedings that are credible, independent, transparent, and unbiased against those individuals accused of committing crimes,” the statement added, and it also called on Guatemalan citizens to respect the “legitimacy and integrity” of the process.

“Without a true reconciliation, it will be difficult for a country to progress as everyone expects,” the report concluded.

Currently, Ríos Montt and his former chief of military intelligence José Rodríguez are being tried for the massacre of 1,771 Ixil Mayan people, which occurred between 1982 and 1983, in the war’s bloodiest moment.

Last March, former paramilitary Isidro Cardona, who collaborated with the Army during the conflict, was sentenced to 50 years in prison for the disappearance of student leader Edgar Paredes Chegüén on January 12, 1982 in the city of Chiquimula, about 175 km east of the capital.