UN special rapporteur expresses concern over Guatemala’s treatment of indigenous peoples
Johannes Rohr

UN special rapporteur expresses concern over Guatemala’s treatment of indigenous peoples

[JURIST] UN Special Rapporteur for the rights of indigneous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz [official profile], expressed concern [press release] Friday over Guatemala’s “discrimination and marginalisation” of the nation’s indigenous peoples.

The statement came after Tauli-Corpuz’s 10-day visit to Guatemala, in which she witnessed indigenous peoples living in extreme poverty and being forcibly evicted from their homes. According to the statement, about 40 percent of indigenous peoples live in “extreme poverty” in Guatemala.

Tauli-Corpuz blames lack of access to land as the core problem facing indigenous peoples in Guatemala. “Guatemala has not adopted legislation nor a mechanism for the adjudication of the rights of indigenous peoples to lands, territories and natural resources,” she said. “Many are left in a situation of total vulnerability in the face of competing interests and numerous projects that are carried out without consultations or the consent of the peoples concerned.”

Another problem is the Guatemalan government bringing exaggerated criminal charges against indigenous peoples who wish to defend their land.

Finally, Tauli-Corpuz says that the Guatemalan government should provide reparations to indigenous peoples for Guatemala’s civil war, which was fought from 1960-1996.

The rights of indigenous peoples are becoming a more recognized international issue. In January a UN rights expert said [JURIST report] that the US must reverse the dismantling of Bears Ears National Monument. In Indonesia, the Constitutional Court found [JURIST report] a law that discriminated against indigenous religious beliefs to be unconstitutional last November. In October Canada settled [JURIST report] with the indigenous “Sixties Scoop” victims.