Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Guatemalan Femicide Investigator Resigns

Alba Trejo, Guatemala’s top femicide investigator, resigned from her post citing threats against her and her family.

“Someone was spying on my house and I don’t want to face something similar to what happened to (murdered attorney) Lea De León,” said Trejo in a press conference.

“I have a family and my daughters rely on me,” Trejo added and this is why she decided, “it would be best to retire.”

In her approximately three years in her post, Trejo claimed that over the past three years her office has helped in “the capture of 1200 attackers (of women) and fifty femicide suspects.”  As a result, she claimed that she didn’t know who was harassing and intimidating her and her loved ones.

Though the government offered to provide her with personal security, Trejo respectfully declined and, thus, her resignation from the Presidential Commission against Femicide will go into effect on Friday.

At least 544 cases of femicide, or the killing of females due to their gender, are believed to have occurred in 2012.  This represented a small drop compared to 2011 and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights praised Trejo for assisting in the creation of a several specialized criminal courts on femicide.  Nevertheless, there has been a worrying spike in femicides over the past decade in Guatemala, which has led to the Central American country having one of the world’s highest femicides rates.

The alarming number of femicides led fifteen civil society groups this month to call for the creation of a Women’s Ministry in the government:

“At this time the Constitutional Court has to decide whether or not to continue the Presidential Secretary for Women.  If the don’t then it will be the ideal time to create a ministry,” declared legislator Nineth Montenegro on the same day that groups arrived at Congress to present their proposal.

Approximately 130 women have been killed in femicides so far in 2013 according to statistics cited by BBC Mundo.

On January 16th the bodies of four women including two minors were found, which led an Amnesty International official to highlight how “thousands of cases of killings of women and girls dating from the last decade are still unresolved or end up being archived due to inefficiencies”.

“If there is no exhaustive and conclusive investigation, the justice system nor the police can do anything. We need to be very clear on this here, as a commission we monitor the Public Ministry showing 99% impunity. We can't do anything against this," said Trejo.
A recently released report from the Pan-American Health Organization concluded that on average 53% of women in Latin America and the Caribbean were targeted in gender-based violence.

Video Source– YouTube via user unetelac

Online Sources – Organization of American States, InSight Crime, Prensa Latino,, BBC Mundo,, Amnesty International, Mpelembe

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