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UN rights experts condemn slaying of Guatemalan indigenous leaders


UN rights experts condemn slaying of Guatemalan indigenous leaders

United Nations human rights experts today condemned the assassinations of two prominent Guatemalan indigenous leaders, whose bodies were discovered late last month.

In a joint statement issued in Geneva, Hina Jilani, Special Representative of the Secretary General on the situation of human rights defenders, and Rodolfo Stavenhagen, Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the situation of indigenous people, said the deaths of Antonio Pop Caal and Diego Velásquez Brito constituted "an enormous loss for the Guatemalan people."

Ms. Jilani and Mr. Stavenhagen called on Guatemalan authorities to investigate the killings thoroughly and to ensure those guilty are brought to justice. "We call on the Guatemalan authorities to continue making the necessary efforts to clarify the circumstances of these assassinations through a thorough investigation," the experts said.

Mr. Pop Caal's corpse was found on 21 December, and the body of Mr. Velásquez Brito was discovered three days later. Deeply concerned by the human rights implications, the experts said they trust that precautions will be taken to guarantee the protection of those who defend human rights in general and of indigenous people in particular in Guatemala, in the future.