Securing the Right to Community Radio for Indigenous People in Guatemala — Impact Fund

Could you tell us more about the affected communities in this case?

We’ve always seen this case as one that’s trying to protect the rights of all Indigenous Peoples in Guatemala, but there are four Indigenous communities that are named in this case. They’re all in different parts of Guatemala.

One community is Sumpango, which is near Guatemala City. Another community is Cajolá, which is further west. And then the communities of Todos Santos is a mountainous region northwest of the capital city further north, and finally the community of San Miguel Chicaj is in the north central part of the country.  Each of them speak different Indigenous languages and have different experiences, but they have all been trying to operate Indigenous community radio stations. Two of them were raided, and at one point, one person was arrested. They exemplify the experience that Indigenous communities have with operating Indigenous community radio stations nationwide.

What was the relief sought in the case? How could the case help remedy the harm inflicted on these communities?

As an international case, this case is a bit different from cases within the U.S. legal system. There’s a human rights system within the Organization of American States, and typically the first place one would go as an advocate is the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. And for some, you may then be eligible to then go on to the Inter-American Court on Human Rights. When we first went to the Commission, we had to articulate the rights that were being violated. The Commission isn’t a court—the goal was to obtain a report concluding that Guatemala had violated the human rights of freedom of expression, the right to culture, and the right to equality before the law. We hoped that the Commission’s report would pressure Guatemala to make some changes, but the report is not a judgment.

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