UN expert on rights of indigenous peoples to revisit Guatemala after four years

12 May 2006

A United Nations human rights expert will follow up on the situation of Guatemala’s indigenous people four years after he called for an end to discrimination against them and improvements in their access to land, justice and basic social services.

Rodolfo Stavenhagen, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, will visit Guatemala from 15 to 18 May to hold talks with Vice President Eduardo Stein and other Government officials, indigenous representatives, civil society organizations and members of academia and institutions dealing with the issue.

Following his previous visit in September 2002, Mr. Stavenhagen said that half of Guatemala’s population is made up of indigenous people, who comprise the majority in certain rural areas. Forty per cent of indigenous people lived in poverty, with women disproportionately affected. About half of the indigenous people were illiterate, with that figure jumping to 90 per cent among women.

In response to this state of affairs, he called on Guatemala to adopt the monitoring mechanism of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. He also stressed the need to implement relevant provisions in the country’s peace accords.

The Special Rapporteur, an unpaid, independent expert with a mandate from the UN Human Rights Council, will present a full report with his findings and recommendations in 2007.


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