María Alejandra Morales
Women human rights defender
THE FACTS – Recently, the Guatemalan government has unilaterally and arbitrarily terminated the employment contract of defender María Alejandra Morales in the National Civil Service Office, where she worked as a communications consultant.
Her dismissal took place after she promoted the I Am Afraid Campaign, aimed at sensitizing the general public to the grave situation of violence experienced by Guatemalan women and girls. The campaign was publically criticized by government officials who resorted to media actions to counteract it, including a smear campaign against the organizers that was based on the dissemination of private information in social networks in an effort to intimidate then and tarnish their reputations.
María Alejandra was not the first person to be fired for participating in the I Am Afraid Campaign, and this points to a government strategy to silence voices of dissent and those raised in defense and promotion of the rights of women by rescinding their employment contracts.
In response, the defender has sought a protective writ before the Constitutional Court, alleging that the government is violating her rights to freedom of expression, equality, non- discrimination, dignity, privacy, and a life free from violence.
We of IM-Defensoras hereby express our solidarity with María Alejandra Morales and demand guarantees for her physical, moral and emotional integrity and respect for her rights as a worker. Likewise, we condemn the arbitrary, unilateral termination of her contract and denounce the scorn of the Guatemalan government and its failure to respond to such serious, widespread problems as violence against women and girls in the country.