Guatemalan Lawyer Gladys Monterroso Kidnapped and Tortured

March 25, 2009 - Gladys Monterroso, lawyer, University professor, and Secretary General of the Encuentro por Guatemala party, and wife of Human Rights Ombudsman Sergio Morales, was kidnapped in Guatemala City on Wednesday March 25 at 7am and released 13 hours later. She was interrogated and burned with cigarettes on different parts of her body; no ransom was demanded.

The Guatemala Human Rights Commission and our Guatemalan partners (including UDEFEGUA, CALDH, CIIDH, GAM, SEDEM, IECCEG and ODHAG) express outrage concerning this attack.

This violent attack occurred just eleven hours after the Human Rights Ombudsman’s release of the first report on the contents of the police archives discovered in 2004. Over 11 million documents were cleaned, scanned, and filed out of over 80 million documents that exist from the 1960-1996 conflict.

The report includes information connecting the Guatemalan National Police to atrocities committed during the war and provided the evidence needed to detain two former members of a police unit linked to death squads that operated during the internal armed conflict. This is the first time that police officers have been detained for involvement in any of the over 47,000 cases of forced disappearances during the 36 year conflict.

GHRC and our Guatemalan partners condemn this violent and criminal act against Gladys Monterroso. We demand that Guatemalan Government authorities and the Public Prosecutor’s Office fully investigate the crime in order to identify, process, and sentence the material and intellectual authors of the crime. We demand that the necessary steps be taken to dismantle the criminal structures that obstruct citizens’ rights, liberties, and guarantees under the Guatemalan Constitution.

Furthermore, we demand immediate protection for Gladys and the Human Rights Ombudsman’s staff throughout Guatemala, to allow them to carry out their work. We also demand protection and guarantees of security for the Historical Archives of the National Police, in order to continue the investigation process linking state entities to crimes of the past. We express our solidarity and concern for Gladys Monterroso, her family, the staff of the Human Rights Ombudsmans Office, and the party leaders of Encuentro por Guatemala.

The following article appeared in Siglo XXI, 28 Marzo 2009:

Kidnapping of Guatemalan Lawyer, Wife of Human Rights Ombudsman

Lawyer Gladys Monterroso, wife of Human Rights Ombudsman Sergio Morales, was kidnapped on Wednesday March 25, 2009.

“The least we can hope for is justice,” said Emilio Alvarez Icasa, member of the Federal Human Rights Commission. “It was a cruel, cowardly, and inhuman attack,” said Rigardo Vargas, President of the Central American Human Rights Ombudsman and Public Defender’s Coucil from Panama.

Álvarez Icasa complimented the work of Sergio Morales and said that he is a reference for all of Latin America for his bravery and work for an open and participatory democracy. “Those clumsy men are mistaken if they think that, through these actions, they are going to slow down the Guatemalan people in seeking peace,” he emphasized.

The Interamerican Commission of Human Rights experessed their concern, and in a memo stated that they are asking for information related to the case from the Guatemalan Government.

Dunia Tobar, Adjunct Human Rights Ombudsman, informed that Monterroso is in stable condition and under medical treatment in a hospital in Guatemala City.

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