Call to declare the Right to Food a national priority for Guatemala - International organisations deeply concerned about attacks against human rights defenders

Geneva/Guatemala, March 9, 2010: Several international organisations and networks that presented a report on the Right to Food call attention at national and international levels to the situation of hunger and malnutrition existing in Guatemala. They demand that the Right to Food be declared a national priority. Moreover, they urge to cease violence and threats against social, community, indigenous, peasant and trade union leaders, and to effectively protect human rights defenders.

The mission report on the Right to Food in Guatemala was handed over on March 8 in Geneva to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter, and will be presented in Guatemala on March 9, on the occasion of a forum jointly convened by the Guatemalan Presidential Human Rights Commission (COPREDEH). Among the main recommendations to the State of Guatemala presented in the report are the following:

* To declare the promotion and protection of the right to food a national priority, ensuring its effective and coherent implementation in all the State’s policies and actions which might have an impact on the food situation at the levels of homes, communities, cities, departments or nation;

* To adopt a moratorium on forced evictions as long as legislation and administrative procedures are not coherent with international human rights law with regards to the right to food and housing, and to produce, in coordination with international human rights bodies and civil society, legal and administrative directives for the protection of human rights in the context of agrarian conflicts;

* To stop the expansion of agrofuel production, giving priority to the sustainable production of food and to the superseding of the food crisis by promoting peasant and indigenous agriculture and economy;

* To revise the Mining Law to guarantee the full recognition of ILO Convention 169 and the results of community consultations, also prohibiting the use of cyanide in mining, guaranteeing the right to food and to water, preventing desertification and environment deterioration, and guaranteeing a fair distribution of profits;

* Given the fact that there is an historic debt to women, to ensure that all public policies and programmes effectively incorporate the gender aspect and the equal rights of women, with an emphasis on peasant and indigenous women as well as on mothers in situation of social vulnerability;

* To ensure that public policies and social programmes initiated by the Government are more equitable and democratic, and are in conformity with human rights principles of participation, transparency, non discrimination and accountability, preventing their instrumentalisation for political objectives;

* To take all necessary measures to guarantee the effective protection of human rights defenders, and institutionalise the Instancia de Análisis de Ataques contra Defensores de Derechos Humanos;

· To put an end and prevent any initiative that might lead to the criminalisation of human rights defenders and activists of the peasant, indigenous and trade union movements;

* To effectively and promptly investigate human rights violations, with the aim of ending impunity, including in situations where interference in political and economic interests exist.

The mission report was elaborated by a large coalition of international organisations: FoodFirst Information and Action Network (FIAN), the international peasant movement La Via Campesina, the European network Copenhagen Initiative for Central America and Mexico (CIFCA), the Coalition of Catholic Agencies for Development (CIDSE), the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), including the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (FIDH-OMCT), and the Association of World Council of Churches related Development Organisations in Europe (APRODEV).

The international mission of this coalition was carried out in Guatemala upon the invitation of Guatemalan counterparts: the Comité de Unidad Campesina (CUC), the Coordinadora Nacional Indígena Campesina (CONIC), the Coordinadora Nacional de Organizaciones Campesinas (CNOC), the Pastoral de la Tierra Interdiocesana, the Plataforma Agraria, el Centro Internacional de Investigaciones de Derechos Humanos (CIIDH), the Coordinación de ONG y Cooperativas (CONGCOOP), the Red de Soberanía Alimentaria (REDSAG), the Campaña “Guatemala sin Hambre”, ActionAid Guatemala, the Mesa Nacional Alimentaria, the Fundación Guillermo Toriello, the Centro de Acción Legal y Derechos Humanos (CALDH), and the Comité de Derechos Humanos de Guatemala y la Unidad de Defensores y Defensoras de Derechos Humanos de Guatemala (UDEFEGUA).

The full report is available on:

· http://www.fidh.org/IMG/pdf/ReportGuatemala2010ENG.pdf

· http://www.omct.org/pdf/2010/Report_Right_to_Food_Guatemala.pdf

The report on Guatemala presented by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food at the Human Rights Council is available at the following link: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/13session/A.HRC.13.33.Add.4.en.pdf

In addition, the compilation of the cases addressed by the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (OMCT-FIDH) in 2008 and 2009, which includes follow-up information obtained as of the end of 2009 / beginning of 2010, is available at the following links:

http://www.fidh.org/IMG/pdf/OBS-Casos-Guatemala.pdf

and

http://www.omct.org/pdf/Observatory/2009/OBS_casos_08-09_Guatemala.pdf.

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