ActionAid International is deeply concerned to hear the news that our colleague Claudia Virginia Samayoa Pineda, a well-known defender of human rights in Guatemala, may be tried for criminal offences.
Claudia Samayoa and Jorge Martínez were indicted by the Supreme Court of Justice on flimsy charges of theft of correspondence and influence peddling, among other crimes. These charges are acts of retaliation for defending human rights and democracy for many years here in Guatemala.
Claudia Samayoa has been a tireless defender of human rights for many years. In that capacity, she participated in three General Assemblies of ActionAid International, a global federation operation in 45 countries. She also served as President of the Board of ActionAid Guatemala between 2010 and 2016. Here she always contributed her work with great humanity and with an ethical and professional approach.
ActionAid International endorses the definition of criminalisation expressed by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Here it is defined as "the misuse of criminal law in the justice system to hinder the work of human rights defenders". In its report dated January 28, 2019, it notes that the criminalisation against human rights defenders has increased in Guatemala between January 2017 until the present.
ActionAid International joins the voices that, at national and international level, ask the Public Ministry to dismiss the charges against Claudia Samayoa and Jorge Martínez, and to instead acknowledge their physical and moral integrity.
In addition, ActionAid International calls on the Guatemalan authorities to stop the criminalisation of all human rights defenders and to instead recognise the right to defend human rights and promote positive actions from the State and guarantee defenders protection.