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Guatemala files criminal complaints for human rights violations during civil war

[JURIST] The director of Guatemala's National Compensation Program Cesar Davila announced Friday that the Guatemalan government [official website; JURIST news archive] has filed more than 3,000 criminal complaints for human rights violations allegedly committed during the country's 1960-1996 civil war [GlobalSecurity Backgrounder]. The complaints were filed on behalf of more than 5,000 victims [La Hora report, in Spanish] who allege they were subjected to forced disappearance, forced displacement, extrajudicial execution, torture, and rape at the hands of soldiers, paramilitaries, and others. The attorney general will now process the complaints and forward them to the Office of Human Rights.

The Guatemalan civil war resulted in more than 200,000 deaths, mostly among Guatemala's large indigenous population. According to a UN report released in 1999, the military was responsible for 95 percent of those deaths. In response to these violations, the Guatemalan government founded the PNR in 2003 to deal with claims by civilians affected by the civil war. The PNR, after setting up its administrative structure, has begun to use its $40 million budget to work through a backlog of more than 98,000 civilian complaints. More than 1,000 complaints were filed in 2008. The PNR hopes to file the majority of the complaints within the next year. In February 2008, the Guatemalan government announced plans to declassify documents [JURIST report] describing human rights abuses committed by its military during the civil war.

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