"We are not trespassers: this is our land” Agrarian conflict and Indigenous peoples’ rights in Alta Verapaz

19 Oct 2023
From 27 to 31 March 2023, an independent fact-finding delegation of international human rights lawyers travelled to the Alta Verapaz department of Guatemala. The members of the delegation visited Guatemala due to their collective concern, arising from recent disturbing reports from organs of the United Nations, the Inter-American human rights systems and civil society, about the deteriorating human rights situation facing Indigenous communities and human rights defenders in the context of agrarian conflict.
The delegation met in Alta Verapaz and Guatemala City with Indigenous communities; Indigenous human rights defenders and lawyers; civil society organisations; representatives of the private sector; the diplomatic community, as well as state authorities responsible for land demarcation and titling, human rights policies and public security, in order to understand the structural causes of rural violence and the constant struggle for territories. The delegation observed systematic failures in the protection of Indigenous rights in Guatemala. Indigenous communities face a disregard for their communal territorial rights, unequal land distribution, racism, violence, and a clear lack of access to justice.
This report documents land grabbing, criminalization, violence and evictions, which constitute serious human rights violations. Through this document, the delegation intends to encourage the Guatemalan State and other stakeholders to meet their international human rights obligations, and to assist Indigenous communities in identifying internacional legal norms that can support their access to ancestral land rights.