#WHRDAlert GUATEMALA / Two-and-a-half-year prison sentences given to women defenders criminalized for defending the right to housing in “Brisas del Mirador” settlement

Aura Margarita Valenzuela, Mariela Alvarez Sucup and Maria Magdalena Zarat Cuzán

National Coordinating Association of Settlers in Marginalized Areas of Guatemala (ACONAPAMG)

The right to housing

Attacks experienced
Arbitrary arrest, Criminalization and Judicial prosecution

THE FACTS – As reported in the WHRD Alerts of March 5th and September 7th, 2017, defenders Aura Margarita Valenzuela, Mariela Alvarez Sucup and Maria Magdalena Zarat Cuzán were subjected to arbitrary arrest, the use of excessive force, and criminalization, when they were working in the Brisas del Mirador settlement to support a group of famílies threatened with eviction.

Repeated requests have been made to put an end to their prosecution, based on both procedural issues and on the legitimate right of defenders to carry out their work in defense of human rights without being criminalized or stigmatized for it. Even so, in mid-October, the Court ratified the guilty verdict for the alleged offense of “aggravated usurpation” against the three defenders, which implies a sentence of two and a half years of prison that can be commuted upon payment within 30 days of a 650USD bond each.

We of IM-Defensoras repudiate and condemn this unjust sentence, based on sexist, classist and racist prejudices, aimed at penalizing, coercing, and inhibiting the legitimate defense of human rights exercized by the population most damaged by the implementatin of neoliberal policies: poor women and indigenous populations.

Likewise, we call on the international community to show its solidarity with the defenders and with ACONAPAMG and offer the support necessary to keep the defenders from going to jail.

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