46 attacks on rights defenders in 2009

March 15, 2009 12:00 am

, GUATEMALA CITY, Mar 15 – At least 46 human rights defenders were attacked in Guatemala, three of whom were murdered, in the first two months of 2009, a 64 percent rise over the same period last year, a non-governmental organization reported Saturday.

The violations mark "the most violent beginning to a year since 2007" in a country with one of the highest crime rates in Latin America, the Human Rights Defenders Protection Unit of Guatemala said in a statement.

The cases include three killings, 15 written threats and eight phone threats, seven court charges, six assassination attempts, three acts of intimidation and one kidnapping.

January was the most violent month for human rights defenders since President Alvaro Colom took office in January 2008, amid a rising wave of common criminal violence and organized crime.

Guatemala has battled a steadily rising crime rate since emerging from its brutal 1960-1996 civil war which left 200,000 people dead or missing.


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