Battling Impunity in Guatemala

Member of staff at the FAFG studying human remains in order to identify them, 12 June 2008. © Private

Member of staff at the FAFG studying human remains in order to identify them, 12 June 2008. © Private

Excavating human remains, using forensic techniques to identify them, hoping the evidence will help bring the killers to justice–it may sound fascinating and even glamorous to some, but this is no “CSI Miami”. These investigators have been threatened, followed, watched, and shot at on many occasions because of their work to combat impunity. The Guatemalan Foundation of Forensic Anthropology (Fundación Guatemalteca de Antropología Forense – FAFG) carries out forensic investigations and exhumations of mass graves dating from the time of Guatemala’s internal armed conflict (1960-1996). The uncovering of mass graves and the identification of human remains is a key contribution to the pursuit of truth, justice and reparation for the relatives of the dead and disappeared and the survivors of the armed conflict, most of whom are indigenous people.

Despite hard work by organizations like the FAFG, and high-profile individuals like Nobel laureate Rigoberta Menchú, violations against human rights defenders in Guatemala are widespread and show no signs of improvement. Many defenders have received so many threats and acts of intimidation that they have stopped or radically curtailed their important work. You can lend your support and encouragement to the FAFG by taking part in this year’s Holiday Card Action, in which people send cards with messages of solidarity and hope to human rights defenders, prisoners of conscience and others who may fear they’ve been forgotten by the world.

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5 thoughts on “Battling Impunity in Guatemala

  1. It would also be wonderful to have a DNA bank accessible for children of Guatemalan who have been abandoned and subsequently adopted internationally, to assist with matching them to a home village, and perhaps even relatives.

  2. It would also be wonderful to have a DNA bank accessible for children of Guatemalan who have been abandoned and subsequently adopted internationally, to assist with matching them to a home village, and perhaps even relatives.

  3. I agree, it would be wonderful it that could happen. I don't know how far along the FAFG lab is in creating such a database, but you certainly point out another strong reason they should be protected and able to carry on their important work!

  4. I agree, it would be wonderful it that could happen. I don’t know how far along the FAFG lab is in creating such a database, but you certainly point out another strong reason they should be protected and able to carry on their important work!

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