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CHICAGO, July 5, 2016 — The American Bar Association has filed an amicus brief with the Constitutional Court of Guatemala, asking the high court to order that a trial stemming from charges of genocide committed against the Maya Ixil ethnic group be open to the public.
The brief was filed in anticipation of action by the Constitutional Court on whether the former head of state of Guatemala, José Efraín Ríos Montt, and his head of intelligence, José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez, should be tried separately on charges related to allegations of genocide and crimes against humanity. The joint trial has previously been closed to the public due to Ríos Montt’s health issues, but separating the trials would enable the trial of Rodríguez Sánchez to be held publicly.
The ABA brief outlines relevant international standards regarding the need for a public trial in the case, and the ABA’s position is consistent with one of its four main goals — to advance the rule of law globally, which includes seeking accountability for human rights violations.
The ABA brief asks the Guatemalan Constitutional Court to take into account that some sectors of Guatemalan society still deny the occurrence of many violations and the existence of genocide during its internal armed conflict. Public disclosure of the facts through a court proceeding could improve Guatemalan confidence in its judicial system and government and prevent the repetition of human rights violations, the brief said.
An unofficial English translation of the ABA brief is available by contacting Maria Gutierrez at 202-662-1091 or Maria.Gutierrez@americanbar.org.
A Spanish translation of this new release is available online here.
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