ILO attests to climate of "total impunity" in Guatemala

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The Governing Body of the International Labour Organisation has today approved a report from its Committee on Freedom of Association examining a number of complaints from Guatemalan trade unions concerning violations of fundamental labour rights.

"The Committee expresses its deep concern over [...] the numerous murders, murder attempts, acts of aggression, death threats, kidnappings, harassment and initimidation of trade union leaders and members, as well as over the allegations concerning the elaboration of black lists and the climate of total impunity."

The Committee also regrets that the Government has only responded on some of the cases, noting that "the absence of court cases against the guilty parties leads to a situation of de facto impunity that aggravates the climate of violence and insecurity, and is extremely prejudicial to the exercise of trade union activities."

There is no sign that the killings and other acts of violence and initimidation are slowing up in 2012 in either the banana sector or other sectors.

The trade union movement is about to launch a national campaign against anti-union activities and notes that "the publication of this ILO report demonstrates the weakness of Guatemalan democracy in the face of Government and company policies that tend to prevent the exercise of basic rights and the building of democracy and social justice."

Geneva, 28th March 2012

Sources: MSICG, Guatemala City and ILO.