Although two years and eight months have passed since the tragedy, the public trial was due to begin on October 22, but the first hearing was cancelled at the last moment. The lawyer of the defendant Anahí Keller petitioned for the replacement of the assigned judge on the basis that he has already expressed an opinion on this case. As a result of this action the start of the trial was delayed once again.

The defendants in this first debate include staff from the Secretary of Social Welfare (SBS): the secretary, the sub-secretary and the director of the home. A total of 12 people are charged and will be tried in three separate proceedings (in addition to the three SBS persons mentioned, the accused include personnel from the Attorney General's Office - PGN -, from the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman's Office - PDH-, personnel from the National Civil Police - PNC - and a peace judge).

The families of the victims and their legal representatives have requested that the Judicial Organism (OJ) combine these three processes into one trial to avoid the revictimization of the survivors and to save the State's and the complainants resources. The lawyers have signaled, however, that to date this petition has not only not been addressed, but the OJ has hindered the victims' right to justice by canceling hearings at the last moment, extending the procedural stage, taking too long in the resolutions of appeals filed, assigning inappropriate and undignified court rooms (in the basement of the courthouse between the parking lot and the jail, where neither the families, the press, nor observers can be present). This treatment is regarded as a continuation of the lack of care and appropriate conditions for children and adolescents who are in need of care and protection from the State.

According to the lawyers for the survivors and their families, the acts to be tried occurred within a context of serious human rights violations towards the children and adolescents in the home, and these terrible conditions are not an exception. These conditions have been and continue to be a reality in many state homes to this day. The failure to incorporate this perspective into the trial will result in a sentence that does not contribute to changing the degrading conditions children and adolescents in state institutions are subject to.

The procedural situation of the other two groups of accused persons confirms the lawyers' perception: the prosecution of the personnel from the PGN, the PDH, the PNC and the “Virgin of the Assumption” Home has remained in the intermediate phase for eight months, and there is still a hearing regarding evidence pending. With regards to the third group of defendants, the Public Prosecutors Office has still not finished processing the charges for the crimes.


Related information:

More than two years on from the tragedy at the “Safe Home”: An Interview with Leonel Dubón, Children's Rights Defender (Bulletin 41, August 2019)

Aisling Walsh, 41 crosses 56 lives: The struggle for truth and justice two years on from the Hogar Seguro Virgen de la Asunción fire, March 5, 2019

Gremaud Angee, A juicio, 5 presuntos implicados del incendio del albergue Hogar Seguro en Guatemala, 21 de febrero 2019

OACNUDH, Las víctimas del Hogar Seguro Virgen de la Asunción: Un camino hacia la dignidad, noviembre 2018

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