President of Guatemala
Lic. Thelma Esperanza Aldana Hernández
Attorney General of Guatemala
Dear President Morales and Attorney General Aldana:
We are deeply concerned about the recent intimidation tactics used against Pedro Rafael Maldonado Flores, the legal director for the Legal, Environmental and Social Action Center of Guatemala (CALAS). On April 3, unidentified men driving a motorcycle fired eight to twelve shots at a car parked in front of his home in Guatemala City. The human rights defender did not suffer any injuries, but this incident has contributed to his increased emotional distress.
CALAS is a non-governmental organization providing legal representation and advice to several Guatemalan communities who are promoting human rights in the context of projects for the exploration and exploitation of natural resources. For years, Pedro Rafael Maldonado Flores has faced threatening messages as a consequence of his job providing legal counsel to community defenders and litigating environmental cases.
Members of CALAS have been targeted on numerous occasions because of their human rights work. On November 12, 2016, CALAS member Jeremy Abraham Barrios Lima was shot by two unidentified assailants on a motorcycle and subsequently died from his injuries (cf our letter of Nov 25 2016). In July 2015, an unknown gunman riding a motorcycle fired a number of shots outside the CALAS offices (cf our letter of July 23 2015). In November 2015, Pedro Rafael Maldonado Flores received death threats via his Twitter account (cf our letter of Dec 15 2015).
In December 2015, Pedro Rafael Maldonado Flores was put under protective measures by order of the Guatemalan Ministry of the Interior. In spite of this, he and his colleagues believe that they remain in danger because they continue to be targeted.
Because of our concern at this most recent act of intimidation against Pedro Rafael Maldonado Flores, we strongly urge that you:
- order an independent, thorough and impartial investigation into the incident, make the results public and bring those responsible to justice;
- take immediate steps to provide full and appropriate protection to him, in accordance with his wishes;
- publicly recognize the important and legitimate work of defenders working on land, territory and environmental issues.
Brian J. Stefan Szittai and Christine Stonebraker-Martínez