Special Coverage: Guatemala Genocide Trial

Cobertura en español aquí

Guatemala is making history in human rights law by becoming the first country to try in a domestic court a former head of state for genocide. Representatives from the Human Rights Brief and the UNROW Human Rights Impact Litigation Clinic are contributing on-site reports and analysis of the trial of former Guatemalan de facto President José Efraín Ríos Montt and former Chief of Military intelligence José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez. The men face charges related to the massacres of the Ixil people in 1982 and 1983 that resulted in 1,700 deaths; 29,000 forced disappearances; and charges of torture and sexual violence. The Brief‘s coverage will explore the importance of this trial for the victims in Guatemala and the future of human rights law.

Ríos Montt Genocide Trial Tests Durability of Domestic & International Legal Protections

Photo by Christina M. Fetterhoff

Orlando Lopez, lead prosecuting attorney in the trial of José Efraín Ríos Montt and José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez, asked expert witnesses for the defense on Wednesday, April 10, 2013, whether they believed Guatemala has fulfilled its human rights obligations under the 1996 Peace Accords, which brought the country’s 36-year civil war to an end, and [Read More...]

Defense Witnesses Claim Ríos Montt Did Not Order Attacks

The courtroom defense table with (from left to right) José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez, his attorney, José Efraín Ríos Montt, and his attorney. Photo by Christina M. Fetterhoff/Human Rights Brief.

The trial for Guatemala’s ex-dictator José Efraín Ríos Montt and former Intelligence Director Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez entered its fourteenth day on April 10, 2013. Judge Yassmin Barrios’ court heard the testimony of eight more expert witnesses, including three defense experts who offered testimony on issues of chain of command as well as the history of [Read More...]

Defense Expert Struggles to Poke Holes in Prosecution’s Command Responsibility Theory

The courtroom defense table with (from left to right) José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez, his attorney, José Efraín Ríos Montt, and his attorney. Photo by Christina M. Fetterhoff/Human Rights Brief.

The first defense expert witness took the stand on the thirteenth day of the trial of Guatemala’s ex-dictator José Efraín Ríos Montt. On Tuesday April 9, 2013, Ríos Montt, who is facing charges of genocide and crimes against humanity in connection with events during the Guatemalan Civil War while he was in power, had his [Read More...]

Guatemala Trial Presents a Test for Evidentiary Standards in Human Rights Trials

Proceso judicial y presentación de pruebas en el juicio por genocidio de José Efraín Ríos Montt. Foto por Christina Fetterhoff/Human Rights Brief.

After judges in the trial of Efraín Ríos Montt and Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez heard from scores of victims over the last few weeks who testified about the horrors they experienced during the early 1980s in Guatemala, the genocide trial shifted focus this week. Adding to the fist-person accounts, judges heard testimony beginning April 8 from [Read More...]

Timeline of Events and Resources

José Efraín Ríos Montt, who was President of Guatemala from 1982 to 1983, and José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez, Ríos Montt’s Chief of Military Intelligence, are facing a trial in the Constitutional Court of Guatemala for genocide and crimes against humanity. The charges result from killings, forced disappearances, torture, and sexual violence during Guatemala’s civil war [Read More...]

Forensic Evidence Testimony Shows Guatemala Investigation’s Strengths

Proceedings and presentation of evidence in the genocide trial of José Efraín Ríos Montt. Photo by Christina Fetterhoff/Human Rights Brief.

On the twelfth day of the trial of former Guatemalan dictator José Efraín Ríos Montt, expert witnesses from the Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation (Fundación de Antropología Forense de Guatemala, FAFG) provided graphic details regarding exhumations FAFG performed over the last seven years in the Ixil region of Guatemala. Ríos Montt is accused of having carried [Read More...]

UPDATE: Journey to Justice: Landmark Case against Former Guatemalan Head of State

Rios Montt trial

Nearly thirty years ago, Guatemalan de facto President José Efraín Ríos Montt led the country through one of the bloodiest periods of Guatemala’s civil war. Ríos Montt—now 86 years old—gained power after a successful military coup in March 1982, until his forced removal as a result of another military coup in August 1983. After victims [Read More...]