PWS started international protective accompaniment in Guatemala at the end of 2003, after having received a request from ACOGUATE. In May 2000, several representatives of indigenous communities (Asosiación para la Justicia y Reconciliación - AJR) pressed charges against Romeo Lucas Garcia and Efraín Ríos Montt for crimes against humanity and for the crime of genocide. It was the first class action lawsuit registered with Guatemalan authorities against high-ranking soldiers and the first time charges were filed for human rights violations committed during the civil war.
Today our volunteers, along with those from seven other nations, accompany eyewitnesses of the crimes commited during the civil war, human rights defenders, small farmers and union representatives. In the field, the volunteer work is being coordinated by our partner organization Coordinatión del Acompañamiento Internacional en Guatemala (CAIG) and divided into two types of accompaniments.
In a long-term project, volunteers accompany survivors of the civil war in their villages and during the meetings of the organization Asociación Justicia y Reconciliación (AJR) in the capital. The survivors of crimes committed during the civil war are under a lot of pressure due to their key role in the ongoing trials. The Centre for Human Rights Legal Action CALDH is supporting the accompaniments.
In short-term accompaniment assignments that have been growing over the years, volunteers accompany human rights defenders and lawyers that are threatened, harassed on a daily basis or even attacked because of their work. They also accompany communities fighting for their land and water resources.
Depending on the location, both types of accompaniment are being fulfilled by the same volunteers.