Bring to Justice Former General Efraín Ríos Montt
During the worst period of Guatemala's long internal armed conflict, Guatemalan security forces sought to exterminate large parts of the indigenous Mayan population, killing tens of thousands of civilians. A UN-sponsored truth commission concluded that acts of genocide had been committed, "through methods whose cruelty has outraged the moral conscience of the civilized world."
General Ríos Montt headed the Guatemalan military government from March 1982 to August 1983. During that period, the government carried out a scorched earth campaign which resulted in the most extensive human rights violations of the 36-year internal armed conflict. He remains an influential and powerful politician in Guatemala.
Seeking Justice Across Borders
Survivors and families of victims seeking justice in Guatemalan courts have faced severe delays, obstruction and harassment. They have asked courts in other countries to exercise universal jurisdiction over the crimes committed in Guatemala.
Universal jurisdiction is based on the principle that all countries have an interest in bringing to justice those responsible for human rights atrocities, no matter where the crimes were committed, and regardless of the nationality of the perpetrators or the victims. International law permits and–in some cases–requires every country to investigate and, if there is sufficient evidence, to prosecute in such circumstances. See the AIUSA factsheet on universal jurisdiction (in pdf format).
Why It's Critical that You Act Now
In July 2006, Spain's National Court charged General Ríos Montt and several other former senior officials with genocide, torture, terrorism and illegal detention, and issued warrants for their arrest. The Guatemalan authorities subsequently took some of the accused into custody in order to ensure that they would not flee the country. General Ríos Montt, however, remains free. Strong international pressure is needed to ensure that all either face trial in Guatemala or are extradited to Spain.Take action »
Download this action: PDF
Download this action: PDFTake action »