On 12 March, the UN committee of experts on human rights assessed the Guatemalan government’s progress regarding respect for and the protection and guarantee of civil and political rights such as: non-discrimination and gender equality; measures to reduce violence against women, particularly against transgender women; prevention and punishment of discrimination against people with disabilities; prevention and punishment of human trafficking, particular in the case of women and children; the conditions in the penitentiary system, especially with respect to overcrowding; the measures taken to protect journalists and human rights defenders. After the analysis and meetings with state officials, the exports issued 21 recommendations, the most notable referring to judicial independence, the rights of indigenous people, and of LGBTI people, gender equality, the decriminalization of abortion, the investigation of crimes committed during the civil war, the reinforcement of the National Reparations Program, and the approval and short-term implementation of an effective public policy for protecting human rights defenders, journalists and trade unionists.
Also in March, Guatemala informed the Council on Human Rights of its decision to accept 150 of the 205 recommendations of the UN in its third Universal Periodic Review (UPR), conducted in 2017. Among the issues addressed by the 55 recommendations rejected by Guatemala are the recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples, measures to fight discrimination against LGBTI people, the decriminalization of abortion, and ratification of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty. In a public statement, the Coalition of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), consisting of more than 100 civil society organizations, said the “State of Guatemala has not made progress in fulfilling commitments under the UPR. Among the pending recommendations are those related to human rights defenders, indigenous peoples, the rights of children, and sexual and reproductive rights.”