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Impeding or Furthering Justice in Guatemala

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Photos: Ben Parker

On May 10, 2013 Ríos Montt was found guilty of overseeing acts of genocide and war crimes against Guatemala’s Ixil Mayan population in 1982 and 1983. The landmark trial marked the first time a former head of state had been tried for genocide by his country's own judicial system, and was considered a key step in addressing impunity for crimes of the past. The guilty verdict was annulled 10 days later by the Constitutional Court on questionable legal grounds.

Last week the Constitutional Court issued a ruling on Oct. 22 asking lower courts to reconsider Rios Montt’s right to protection under a defunct 1986 amnesty law.

Is the Guatemalan Constitutional Court's decision impeding justice in Guatemala? What is the longer-term impact of this decision? Is it furthering impunity and social polarization in the country and a much needed reckoning with its past?

Guests on our show:

Jo-Marie Burt teaches political science at George Mason University, where she is also director of Latin American Studies and Co-director of the Center for Global Studies. She is also a Senior Fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), where she conducts research and writes commentaries on human rights and transitional justice issues in the region.

Kathryn Johnson is Assistant Director at Guatemala Human Rights Commission. She is an experienced researcher, advocate and master of public administration with proven ability to conduct accurate policy analysis, produce high quality reports for diverse audiences, and effectively communicate policy options as well as extensive international experience and a strong academic background in issues of international trade and development and fluency in Spanish.
 

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