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Lesbia Artola

HRD & Integrante

Lesbia Artola es integrante del Comité Campesino del Altiplano – CCDA en Cobán, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala. CCDA es una organización campesina que trabaja para promover el acceso a la tierra, así como los derechos laborales de las y los campesinos mayas en Guatemala. Proporcionan apoyo relacionado con la tierra y crédito, incluyendo becas, así como diversas capacitaciones sobre derechos campesinos. A nivel nacional, el CCDA forma parte de la Coordinación Nacional de Organizaciones Campesinas (CNOC), que ayuda a las y los campesinos a organizarse para defender sus derechos humanos fundamentales.

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.