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Abelino Chub Caal

HRD

"I'm Abelino Chub Caal. I'm the son of a humble Maya Q'Echii peasant family. I am imprisoned for pleading for justice and defending my peasant brothers and sisters. My deprivation of liberty is a sign of the inability of the State authorities to resolve the social conflict".

Letter from Abelino, 18 June 2017

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Abelino Chub Caal is a member of the Guillermo Toriello Foundation, which promotes local development within the framework of the peace agreements. The Foundation is also dedicated to advocating for dignified housing for all, local development, environmentally sustainable agriculture and the preservation of the memory of the armed conflict in Guatemala. As part of his human rights work, Abelino Chub Caal accompanies 29 communities in Sierra Santa Cruz, Izabal, whose land, environmental and cultural rights are threatened by mining interests, particularly the operations of the Compañía Guatemalteca de Níquel (CGN), and ranchers, despite a ruling in favour of the communities' land rights from the Constitutional Court.

Human rights defenders (HRDs) in Guatemala are subjected to death threats, physical attacks, acts of harassment, surveillance, stigmatisation, judicial harassment, arbitrary detention, forced disappearance and killings. Many of the violations are carried out by clandestine security structures and illegal groups. The exceptionally high level of impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators increases the risk exponentially for HRDs.

A serious issue is the unfair use of criminal proceedings in order to prevent HRDs from carrying out their legitimate human rights activities. Many criminal proceedings are launched by private companies (often backed by European and North American governments) related to the mining sector and the construction of dams, spuriously accusing HRDs of crimes such as acts of terrorism, usurpation of land, kidnappings and others. As part of the criminalisation process, campaigns of defamation and stigmatisation have been carried out by both state and non-state actors, particularly transnational companies and right-wing media publications. State authorities continue to publish statements and press releases in which they publicly incriminate HRDs on unverified charges.