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World

Inter-American Human Rights Court Hears Case of Disappeared Guatemalan Professor

The family of Mayra Ángela Gutiérrez Hernández, who disappeared on April 7, 2000, is suing the Guatemalan government for failing to investigate the disappearance

Angela María del Carmen Argüello, daughter of Mayra Angélica Gutiérrez Hernández who went missing in 2000 en the city of Guatemala, testifies in front of the public court in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, photo: Cuartoscuro/Adolfo Vladimir
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1 year ago

The Inter-American Human Rights Court (CoIDH) in Mexico City heard arguments at a public hearing regarding the case of “Gutiérrez Hernández et al. v. Guatemala,” concerning the disappearance of university professor Mayra Ángela Gutiérrez Hernández on April 7, 2000, in Guatemala. The family of Gutiérrez Hernández, witnesses and the Guatemalan government made statements before the judges of the CoIDH.

At the beginning of the hearing, it was argued that a serious and thorough investigation had not been conducted by the Guatemalan government. The complaint alleges that from the moment that the state was aware of Gutiérrez Hernández’s disappearance, they demonstrated a complete lack of action to find the whereabouts of the supposedly disappeared.

According to the testimony of Angela Argüello, daughter of Gutiérrez Hernández, the professor’s disappearance could be related to academic research she was conducting about illegal adoptions related to the military. Argüello added that her uncles were also disappeared, and that her mother was insulted by authorities who attempted to characterize the crime as an unpremeditated one in order to close the case.

Patricio Pazmiño Freire, Elizabeth Odio Benito, Eduardo Ferrer Mac-Gregor Poisot, Roberto F. Caldas, Eduardo Vio Grossi and Eugenio Raúl Zaffaroni, judges of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, during the session that took place in Mexico

Patricio Pazmiño Freire, Elizabeth Odio Benito, Eduardo Ferrer Mac-Gregor Poisot, Roberto F. Caldas, Eduardo Vio Grossi and Eugenio Raúl Zaffaroni, judges of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, during the session that took place in Mexico. Photo: Cuartoscuro/Adolfo Vladimir

“Did your mother or any of your relatives maintain any level of political activism or have relations with political groups in Guatemala?” CoIDH Judge Patricio Pazmiño asked Argüello.

“Of my family, the only ones who were in any way related to political activity were my mother and my two uncles, and the three are missing,” she responded.

The representative of the Guatemalan government assured that they investigated the case, and claimed to have made no assumption that the crimes were unpremeditated.

The case had previously been heard before the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (CIDH) which determined that the Guatemalan investigation was gendered, and further, that there were sexist generalizations made regarding the role and comportment of women in society which were at play in the proceedings. The family of Gutiérrez Hernández also requested that the CoIDH declare the international responsibility of the Guatemalan government for a violation of human rights as they did not fulfill their obligation to investigate the forced disappearance.

All parties will present their pleas in writing on Sept. 24, after which the court will make a ruling.

NOEMÍ GUTIÉRREZ

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