The undersigned thoroughly condemn the capture of Guatemalan human rights defender Rubén Herrera on March 15th, and call for his immediate release. Rubén’s unjust incarceration is part of a strategy to delegitimize, defame, and intimidate community leaders in Barillas, Huehuetenango who oppose the construction of the Cambalam hydroelectric dam.
The persecution of men and women who stand up for their internationally recognized right to consultation about development projects which impact their communities must stop. Rubén's case reflects a troublesome trend in which the Guatemalan justice system is being misused and manipulated in order to preemptively punish activists, community leaders, and human rights defenders.
We support the efforts of the Guatemalan Public Prosecutor's office to dismiss the baseless charges against Rubén, in compliance with their mandate to preserve the rule of law and respect for human rights. We join our voices with those of countless others in Guatemala and around the world to plead for justice and call for Ruben Herrera's immediate release!
Guatemala Human Rights Commission/USA
This petition closed almost 2 years ago
Since Friday, March 15, Rubén Herrera, human rights defender and member of the Departmental Assembly of Huehuetenango for the Defense of Natural Resources (ADH), has been unjustly imprisoned for...
Since Friday, March 15, Rubén Herrera, human rights defender and member of the Departmental Assembly of Huehuetenango for the Defense of Natural Resources (ADH), has been unjustly imprisoned for alleged crimes committed in relation to community resistance of the Cambalam hydroelectric dam, Santa Cruz Barillas. Citing 12 charges, including kidnapping and terrorism, a Guatemalan judge denied Herrera's bail, ordering the case move to pretrial proceedings on May 30, 2013.
During the past year, 11 community leaders engaged in peaceful and legitimate resistance to the Cambalam hydroelectric project have been illegally imprisoned on trumped-up charges, while more than 20 individuals continue to have arrest warrants pending against them.
The arrest and imprisonment of Rubén Herrera is the most recent example of the systematic criminalization and persecution of community leaders. During the arraignment, even the Public Prosecutor argued the case should not continue as there is insufficient evidence linking him to the alleged crimes. Despite the lack of evidence, the judge ordered that the case against Herrera move forward and that Ruebén be imprisoned without bail.