Leading Global Jewish Organization Calls on U.S. Congress to Pass Legislation to Promote the Rule of Law in Guatemala

American Jewish World Service Welcomes Introduction of an Act That Would Impose Sanctions on Current and Former Guatemalan Officials

American Jewish World Service (AJWS) Director of Government Affairs Rori Kramer issued this statement following the introduction of the Guatemala Law and Accountability Act in the House and Senate:

“As the leading global Jewish organization that supports advocates for human rights in Guatemala and 18 other countries, we call on both the U.S. House and Senate to pass legislation to help return democracy and the rule of law in Guatemala. We are gravely concerned about the situation in Guatemala.

“The administration of President Jimmy Morales has embarked on a mission to dismantle Guatemala’s system of checks and balances, weaken institutions, shred the rule of law and attack human rights defenders. Morales has also been linked to electoral finance fraud allegations. Recently, the Guatemalan Congress signaled its intention to grant amnesty to perpetrators of crimes against humanity—reversing a courageous decision by the country to prosecute former military officers for genocide and other crimes.

“For more than a decade, the UN-backed International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, known as CICIG, has been successfully investigating illegal groups and clandestine intelligence organizations with close ties to the political and military elites. The Commission’s investigations reached Morales’s ‘inner circle,’ and, earlier this year, Morales expelled the investigators working for the commission from Guatemala.

“We believe the U.S. Government must be a global leader in supporting human rights and the rule of law and should stand up to efforts by the government of Guatemala to perpetrate abuses of power. This includes the misuse of military equipment supplied by the U.S. government and funded by U.S. taxpayer dollars, that was intended to combat drug trafficking and secure Guatemala’s borders.

“We applaud Sen. Ben Cardin and Rep. Norma Torres for championing this important legislation to address the deterioration of law and order in Guatemala. This legislation would hold the country’s leaders accountable to the people of Guatemala by placing sanctions on current and former Guatemalan officials who have committed a range of offenses, from drug trafficking to grand corruption. To bolster human rights and the rule of law, the legislation would sanction and deny visas of those Guatemalan officials who have engaged in serious acts of obstruction of justice, the misuse of U.S. equipment to quash human rights, and impeding the operations of U.S. agencies as well as agencies funded by the U.S. government that seek transparency and a return to the rule of law. The legislation also affirms U.S. government support for the investigations into corruption in Guatemala.

“We believe that a guarantee of the rule of law and basic human rights is crucial to every society. For that reason, AJWS stands with human rights advocates in Guatemala and call upon our government to use its powers to restore full democratic rights and respect for the law to Guatemala.”

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About American Jewish World Service (AJWS)

American Jewish World Service (AJWS) is the leading Jewish organization working to pursue justice and fight poverty in the developing world. By supporting hundreds of social change organizations in 19 countries, we respond to the most pressing issues of our time—from disasters, genocide and hunger to the persecution of women and minorities worldwide. With Jewish values and a global reach, AJWS is making a difference in millions of lives and bringing a more just and equitable world closer for all. Learn more at www.ajws.org

The Global Justice Fellowship and Guatemala

AJWS’s Global Justice Fellowship brings leading rabbis from the United States to witness the work of human rights advocates we support in the developing world. These rabbis become national advocates for human rights to affect U.S. policy and advance our mission to build a more just world for all. Earlier this year, Fellows traveled in Guatemala, learning firsthand about the challenges facing vulnerable communities there. They also learned how grassroots Guatemalan organizations are working to promote and defend human rights in Guatemala.

Current and past fellows who have visited Guatemala are available for media interviews and appearances. On March 12, the rabbis who traveled in Guatemala this year will visit members of Congress to urge them to support the Guatemala Law and Accountability Act in the House and Senate.

 

For all media inquiries, please contact:
David L. Marcus
212.792.2857