We are happy to be able to share some good news we have received today: The cancellation of the temporary residence permits of two volunteers of the Peace Brigades International (PBI) Guatemala Project has been reversed.1
After a meeting held between the Interior Minister, Mr Mauricio López Bonilla and the diplomatic personnel of various European embassies, we have been informed that the situation was down to an unfortunate misunderstanding with regards to the identity of the named individuals.
Members of the diplomatic staff have also informed us that the temporal residence permit of the PBI volunteers will be reinstated and the order to leave the country overturned. On the same day Minister Bonilla called the PBI team to present formal explanations for the incident and express his respect for their work in the accompaniment of human rights defenders in the country.
By doing so, they have confirmed that no accusations have been raised by public Guatemalan authorities against PBI or its volunteers in the country. In an immediate press statement the Office of the UN-High Commissioner for Human Rights (OACNUDH) in Guatemala expressed on 10th July:
„The UN-Human Rights highly values that in this context the Interior and Foreign Ministry have reiterated their recognition of the important work of national and international people, groups and organisations dedicated to the defence of human rights and the contribution they are making to the strengthening of democracy and the state of law“.2
We consider that the signals of concern, support and international solidarity, which have been expressed by numerous and diverse entities have fundamentally contributed to finding a favourable solution to the situation: Social and human rights organisations at the Guatemalan and international level, members of the diplomatic corps and the OACNUDH, journalists as well as key social and political figures, individuals, all of them with a strong compromise with human rights in Guatemala and beyond.
We would like to express our most profound gratitude for the huge support we received. At the same time, we would like to reaffirm our compromise and determination to continue to contribute to the protection of the spaces for action and work of human rights defenders in Guatemala, together with other organisations of international accompaniment in the country and the region.
1PBI Guatemala, “Open Letter: Cancellation of temporary residence permits of two volunteers of PBI Guatemala. A renewed attack against the right to defend human rights.” Guatemala, 02.07.2014.
2OACNUDH, “UN-Human Rights values decision of Interior Minister to overturn the cancellation of temporary residence permits of two human rights defenders.” Guatemala, 10.07.2014.