GUATEMALA CITY (AP) – Former Guatemalan judge Miguel Ángel Gálvez told the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on Monday that he fears for his integrity and that of his family, after denouncing criminal acts against him in response to his rulings in corruption and war crimes cases and after leaving the country last December.
During the hearing to review compliance with the precautionary measures ordered by the court against the Guatemalan State, the head of the Presidential Commission for Peace and Human Rights, Ramiro Contreras, declared that all measures aimed at to guarantee the safety of the magistrate had been respected, but that once the judge left Guatemala, the vehicles and the security personnel were returned.
Contreras pointed out that Gálvez resigned from office and left the country voluntarily after speaking out against harassment and persecution.
Gálvez, who resigned as judge after failing to find support in the Supreme Court of Justice, rejected the Guatemalan state’s response and assured that accusations of harassment and threats by members of the Fundación Contra el Terrorismo, a far-right organization that defends accused of corruption and war crimes.
“I distrust the very institutions, even the very people who are here, now I hold them responsible for something that could happen to me, not only to my integrity but also to my family in Guatemala,” said the former Judge Galvez.
Pedro Vaca, special rapporteur for freedom of expression for the OAS Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, said it was necessary to maintain the protection of Gálvez and his family nucleus because “if the State does not guarantee protection, the activity of justice may be seriously affected”.
With the support of the public prosecutor’s office, the Foundation against terrorism has initiated criminal proceedings against justice actors who have participated in cases of corruption or crimes against humanity. The US State Department imposed sanctions on two of its directors, Ricardo Méndez Ruíz and Raúl Falla, for undermining democracy in the country.
Under the government of President Alejandro Giammattei, more than 30 justice officials, along with lawyers, journalists and human rights activists, have left the country due to alleged persecution against them.
Harassment against Gálvez escalated in 2022, after he brought to justice 9 former military and police officers accused of torturing, disappearing and executing hundreds of people in a case known as Military Diary.
“El Diario Militar” is a 74-page police blog documenting the enforced disappearance and extrajudicial execution of more than 180 people during Guatemala’s civil war between 1960 and 1996.
After being located in 1999, the report was turned over to the George Washington University National Security Archive in the United States for safekeeping.
The case is currently pending and relatives of the victims have said they fear justice will not be served. A local judge ordered the house arrest of one of the defendants, despite the fact that he was arrested in Panama while trying to evade an arrest warrant related to the case.
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