• News

14 April 2021

In Guatemala, after several years of cooperation with indigenous women, Lawyers Without Borders Canada is proud to see the birth of a new generation of human rights defenders. These young women are now ready to tackle the discrimination and human rights violations that persist in their country.


Even today, Guatemala’s indigenous peoples face racial discrimination, exclusion, extreme poverty or very limited access to justice. A legacy of a long armed conflict, many aspects of which remain unresolved.


The project “Strengthening the protection of the rights of indigenous women in Guatemala” enabled 10 Guatemalan students of indigenous origin to gain professional experience in the defense of human rights. This experience allows them to take over from previous generations and become, in turn, leaders in the fight against human rights violations committed against their community.


Towards strong and self-reliant communities


The indigenous peoples of Guatemala were severely affected by the national conflict between the Government and armed groups fighting corruption from 1960 to 1996.


During this period, 83% of the victims were Indigenous. The desire to eradicate the Mayan communities in the country led to extrajudicial executions, massacres and enforced disappearances. Women suffered from the widespread and systematic use of sexual violence as a strategy of repression by the State.


Our approach was to build the capacity of local organizations specializing in women’s and indigenous peoples’ rights. They are now able to provide free legal aid and judicial assistance tailored to the needs of indigenous women, particularly in rural areas.


Also noteworthy is the support of the Ministère des Relations internationales et de la Francophonie du Québec during the project. Now the Asociación de Abogados Mayas, Abogadas Chomija and the Bufete Jurídico Popular de Rabinal can make a real difference in their communities.