Guatemala – Human Rights Council- Violence Against Women - March 2017

The Advocates submitted a stakeholder report on Guatemala for the 28th session of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). This submission reported on violence against women and related issues of legal provisions and law enforcement.

The submission first reports on Guatemala's legal framework. Guatemala has signed several treaties with obligations around the prevention and punishment of violence against women. Additionally, in Guatemala's previous UPR review of 2012, Guatemala agreed to several recommendations relating to gender-based violence. Since the review, Guatemala has taken some steps towards preventing and punishing gender-based violence. Violence against women is included in the Guatemalan Criminal Code and the 2008 Law against Femicide. There are also agencies tasked with making laws related to gender-based violence effective. However, these laws are still poorly implemented and have had little impact on reducing violence against women.

The submission goes on to address Guatemala’s compliance with its international human rights obligations. The government does offer some services to victims of domestic violence, including through the Office of the Ombudsperson for Indigenous Women. However, protections for survivors of violence are often underfunded, particularly in rural areas. The lack of services in rural areas disproportionately impact indigenous women.

Police frequently fail to assist survivors of violence and lack training in dealing with domestic violence. Lack of effective police assistance can expose survivors to additional violence and allow impunity for perpetrators. In spite of the high rates of violence against women, perpetrators frequently receive no punishment because of police and judicial failures to investigate or prosecute crimes of violence against women.

The author of the report proposes the following recommendations for the Government of Guatemala:

  • Guatemala should develop a national Plan of Action on improving implementation of the Law against Femicide, including ending impunity for femicide, domestic violence, rape and sexual assault.
  • Guatemala should require regular and ongoing monitoring of the implementation of the Law against Femicide.
  • Guatemala should include explicit provisions for funding in the Law against Femicide and the Law on Intrafamily Violence.
  • Guatemala should undertake reforms to its judiciary in order to expedite and prioritize cases of violence against women, particularly cases of domestic violence and femicides.
  • Ensure that police undergo training, as described below, and that civilians have access to an independent, effective, and impartial complaint mechanism when law enforcement fails to carry out their responsibilities under the law when responding to domestic violence.
  • Guatemala should mandate ongoing training for all government officials, particularly prosecutors, police, and judges, on the dynamics of violence against women and best practice standards, led by or in consultation with NGOs that serve victims of domestic violence.