Unjust persecution and harassment of Sandra Torres

8 March 2012

The Socialist International expresses its grave concern over information from Guatemala, according to which its member party the National Union of Hope (UNE) and in particular one of its principal leaders, Sandra Torres, have continued to suffer serious acts of harassment during recent weeks from the authorities of that country.

As was expressed in a declaration with regard to this situation, issued on 20 January on the eve of the Council meeting of the SI in San José, Costa Rica, the Socialist International has always condemned any attempt to make use of the organs of the State, whether judicial, administrative or other public bodies, in order to carry out acts of political persecution.

The Socialist International has a duty to recall that the full respect of human rights and their guarantee in Guatemala are a prerequisite for the continued existence of its democratic regime. The due process of all Guatemalans subject to investigation and trial must be fully respected. Respect for the presumption of innocence of every defendant is a principle which reflects the commitment of the organs of the State to democracy and must not be threatened in any way.

During the carrying out of investigations and prosecutions, the personal freedoms and free circulation of the accused can only exceptionally be subject to restrictions, based on explicit legal rules and which must be imposed under strict juridical control. The International remains particularly alert to the possible imposition of sanctions which affect the political rights of the accused and can make it difficult for them to remain key actors in the political life of their country and the region.

The Socialist International expresses its solidarity with Sandra Torres and its comrades in the UNE who are the object of serious allegations without foundation or proof. In this respect, it calls for the Guatemalan authorities to hold the accusers responsible for of the seriousness of their charges and of the effect they have on personal reputation, on the prestige of political parties and, finally, on democracy itself in the country.

Lastly, the organisation recalls that which was expressed in the meeting of its Council in San José by the member parties of the SI, in recognition of the crucial advances obtained in Guatemala by the recently concluded government of President Álvaro Colom towards deepening democracy, the fight against poverty, and fair social policies in Guatemala.