A Reflection on Transitional Justice in Guatemala 15 Years After the Peace Agreements



This chapter is a reflection of what the wartime prosecutions in Guatemala have achieved in the past fifteen years since the signing of the peace agreements. Through their participation in emblematic wartime cases in Guatemala, victims have infused the justice system with accountability to make it harder for individual prosecutors or judges to dismiss the cases; they have brought resources that have resulted in better investigations, better trials and better evidence and even more protection for the brave prosecutors and judges and they have creatively pushed the boundaries of law to advance criminal law and procedural doctrines in accordance with international legal developments. However, these heroic efforts in important individual cases have yielded few lasting reforms in the judicial system of Guatemala. It is time for Guatemala to acknowledge that it has asked too much from the victims and to consider alternative models for addressing the persistent and endemic problems of transitional justice in the country.


Guatemala Transitional justice Post-conflict transition Victims Prosecution Amnesty 


  1. Aldana R (2011) Repairing the past and healing the present: Gomes Lund et al. v. Brazil. Int Justice 1:55–60Google Scholar
  2. Aldana-Pindell R (2002) In vindication of justiciable victim’s rights to truth and justice for state-sponsored crimes. Vanderbilt J Transnatl Law 35:1399–1500Google Scholar
  3. Alvarado H (2011) Deniegan Cambio de Delito a Acusaso en Caso Dos Erres, Prensa Libre, 29 Sept 2011. www.prensalibre.com/noticias/justicia/Deniegan-cambio-delito-acusado-Erres_0_563343877.html. Accessed 12 February 2012
  4. Alvarado H (2012) José Efraín Ríos Montt queda ligado a proceso por genocidio, Prensa Libre, 27 January 2012. www.prensalibre.com/noticias/Rios-Montt-queda-ligado-proceso_0_635336490.html. Accessed 12 February 2012
  5. Amnesty International (2011) El Salvador Massacre: a 30-Year Fight for Justice. www.amnesty.org/zh-hant/node/28684. Accessed 11 February 2012
  6. Archila O (2011) Víctimas Piden Condena a Militares por Masacre en Aldea Dos Erres, Prensa Libre, 21 July 2011. www.prensalibre.com/noticias/justicia/masacre-justicia-ejercito_0_521348011.html. Accessed 12 February 2012
  7. Azpuru D (2010) Political culture of democracy in Guatemala. LAPOP-Vanderbilt University, NashvilleGoogle Scholar
  8. Bathanti J (2008) Bishop Gerardi: a life devoted to social justice. www.ghrc-usa.org/AboutGuatemala/TimelineGerardiWebsite.pdf. Accessed 10 February 2012
  9. Bird A (2012) Otto Perez Molina elected President of Guatemala days earlier a court improperly dismissed charges against him of forced disappearance and torture. www.rightsaction.org/action-content/new-guatemalan-president-article-1-annie-bird. Accessed 10 February 2012
  10. Brett R (2009) Etnicidad y Ciudadanía, Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo Guatemala. www.pnud.org.gt/data/publicacion/Etnicidad_y_ciudadania.pdf. Accessed 10 February 2010
  11. Briscoe I, Stappers M (2012) Breaking the wave: critical steps in the fight against crime in Guatemala, Impunity Watch. www.impunitywatch.org/upload/UserFiles/file/Breaking%20the%20wave.pdf. Accessed 9 February 2012
  12. Center for Justice and Accountability (2011) The Guatemala Genocide case before the Spanish National Court. www.cja.org/section.php?id=83. Accessed 11 February 2012
  13. Cerigua Weekly Briefs (1994) Military shake-up reveals power struggle, Cerigua Weekly Briefs, 21 Feb 1994. www.tulane.edu/~libweb/RESTRICTED/CERIGUA/1994_0221.txt. Accessed 10 February 2012
  14. CICIG (2006) Acuerdo entre la Organización de Naciones Unidas y el Gobierno de Guatemala relative al establecimiento de una Comisión Internacional Contra la Impunidad en Guatemala (CICIG). www.cicig.org/uploads/documents/mandato/01_cicig_acuerdo.pdf. Accessed 6 February 2012
  15. CICIG (2011) Informe Ejecutivo Cicig: Cuatro Años de Labores. www.cicig.org/uploads/documents/2011/COM-052-20111005-DOC02.pdf. Accessed 6 February 2012
  16. Cuéllar B (2011) El Salvador. In: Fundación para el Debido Proceso Legal (ed) Las Víctimas y las Justicia Transicional: ¿Están Cumpliendo los Estados Latinoamericanos con los Estándares Internacionales? Fundación para el Debido Proceso Legal, Washington, pp. 127–156Google Scholar
  17. Fauriol GA, Loser E (eds) (1991) Guatemala’s political puzzle. Transaction Publishers, LondonGoogle Scholar
  18. Fernández García MC (2004) Lynching in Guatemala: legacy of war and impunity. www.wcfia.harvard.edu/fellows/papers/2003-04/fernandez.pdf. Accessed 11 February 2012
  19. Fundación de Antropología Forense de Guatemala (2009) Entrevista con Aura Elena Farfán. www.fafg.org/entrevistas/EntrevistaFarfan.html. Accessed 12 February 2012
  20. Fundación de Antropología Forense de Guatemala (2012) Investigaciones Antropológico Forense Realizadas en Guatemala de 1992-2010. www.fafg.org/paginas/casos.htm. Accessed 6 February 2012
  21. Fundación Myrna Mack (2007) Una Aproximación al Uso de la Violencia Política contra la Búsqueda de Verdad y Justicia. www.myrnamack.org.gt/index.php/analisis/159-una-aproximacion-al-uso-de-la-violencia-politica-contra-la-busqueda-de-verdad-y-justicia. Accessed 11 February 2012
  22. Fundación Myrna Mack (2009) Una Aproximación de los Rasgos de la Violencia en Guatemala. www.myrnamack.org.gt/index.php/analisis/168-una-aproximacion-a-los-rasgos-de-la-violencia-en-guatemala. Accessed 11 February 2012
  23. Galis Patiño M C (2011) Informe Comparativo. In: Fundación para el Debido Proceso Legal (ed) Las Víctimas y las Justicia Transicional: ¿Están Cumpliendo los Estados Latinoamericanos con los Estándares Internacionales?, Fundación para el Debido Proceso Legal, Washington, pp. 1–34Google Scholar
  24. González Leche RA (2002) Modelo de Atención a la Víctima del Delito, Implementado en el Ministerio Público de de Guatemala, Centro América. www.ilanud.or.cr/A116.pdf. Accessed 4 October 2012
  25. Guatemalan Commission for Historical Clarification (1997) Guatemala, Memory of Silence Tz’Inil Na’ Tab’Al: Report of the Commission for Historical Clarification Conclusions and Recommendations. www.shr.aaas.org/guatemala/ceh/report/english/toc.html. Accessed 10 February 2012
  26. Impunity Watch (2009) La Persistencia de la Verdad: A Diez Años del Informe de la CEH. www.impunitywatch.org/en/publication/33. Accessed 11 February 2012
  27. Impunity Watch (2010a) Cambiar la Cultura de la Violencia por la Cultura de la Vida: Los Primeros dos Años de la Comisión Internacional contra la Impunidad en Guatemala. www.impunitywatch.org/upload/UserFiles/file/CICIG%20Report%20(IW,%20ICTJ,%20Dutch%20Platform).pdf. Accessed 10 February 2012
  28. Impunity Watch (2010b) Reconociendo el Pasado: Desafíos para Combatir la Impunidad en Guatemala: Resumen y Recomendaciones. www.impunitywatch.org/upload/UserFiles/file/IW%20Guatemala%20BCR,%20Spanish.pdf. Accessed 10 February 2012
  29. Leonardo Segura M (2011) Guatemala. In: Fundación para el Debido Proceso Legal (ed) Las Víctimas y las Justicia Transicional: ¿Están Cumpliendo los Estados Latinoamericanos con los Estándares Internacionales?, Fundación para el Debido Proceso Legal, Washington, pp. 157–190Google Scholar
  30. Oficina del Arzobispado de Guatemala (2010) Violencia en Guatemala: Estudio Estadístico en Cinco Departamentos. www.odhag.org.gt/pdf/Violencia%20en%20Guatemala.pdf. Accessed 10 February 2012
  31. Padget T (2011) Sins of the past: will all of Latin America find justice for cold war atrocities Guatemala. www.globalspin.blogs.time.com/2011/11/03/sins-of-the-cold-war-when-will-all-of-latin-america-find-justice/. Accessed 11 February 2012
  32. Paredes E (2012) President Pérez Molina Ignaura plan de Recuperación Vial, Prensa Libre, 12 January 2012. www.prensalibre.com/escuintla/Presidente-Otto_Perez-inaugura-carreteras_3_632366758.html. Accessed 11 February 2012
  33. Paz y, Paz Bailey C (2006) Guatemala: gender and reparations for human rights violations. In: Rubio-Marín R (ed) What happened to the women? Gender and reparations for human rights violations. Social Science Research Council, New York, pp. 92–135Google Scholar
  34. Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo Guatemala (2007) Informe Estadístico de la Violencia en Guatemala. www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/violence/national_activities/informe_estadistico_violencia_guatemala.pdf. Accessed 10 February 2012
  35. Rights Action (2011a) Allegation letter from rights action, Guatemala Human Rights Commission, and Jennifer Harbury to Juan Méndez U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, 11 July 2011. www.rightsaction.org/articles/Letter_to_United_Nations_082411.html. Accessed 10 February 2012
  36. Rights Action (2011b) Juez Español Santiago Pedraz, Investigará Crímenes de Género www.rightsaction.org/articles/rape_trials_in_Spain_072911.html. Accessed 11 February 2012
  37. Secretaría de la Paz de la República de Guatemala (1996) Acuerdos de Paz en Guatemala. www.arias.or.cr/publicaciones/FA05035107.pdf. Accessed 10 February 2012
  38. Tribunal Supremo Electoral de Guatemala (2012) Magistrados el TSE Oficializaron Resultados de la Segunda Elección Presidencial, 17 November 2012. www.elecciones2011.tse.org.gt/noticias.php?num=1469. Accessed 10 February 2012
  39. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (2010) Homicide statistics. www.elecciones2011.tse.org.gt/noticias.php?num=1469. Accessed 10 February 2012
  40. World Bank (2009) Guatemala Poverty Assessment: good performance at low levels. www.wds.worldbank.org/external/default/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2009/07/08/000333038_20090708235221/Rendered/PDF/439200ESW0GT0P1IC0Disclosed07171091.pdf. Accessed 11 February 2012
  41. Zunino M (2011) Releasing transitional justice from the technical asylum: judicial reform in Guatemala seen through Technē and Phronēsis. Int J Transitional Justice 5:99–118Google Scholar

Copyright information

© T.M.C. ASSER PRESS, The Hague, The Netherlands, and the authors 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.McGeorge School of LawUniversity of the PacificSacramentoUSA

Personalised recommendations