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UN Human Rights Office Opens In Guatemala


New York, Aug 12 2004 4:00PM

The United Nations human rights office opened bureau in Guatemala today to take over the UN peacekeeping mission's 10 years of work verifying the human rights situation since decades of war ended in the Central American country.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Verification Mission in Guatemala (MINUGUA), Tom Koenigs, told his audience he hoped Guatemala would make good use of the unique opportunity that the local office of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) presented.

At the end of this year MINUGUA, established in January 1997 after 36 years of civil war, is scheduled to withdraw, leaving human rights monitoring to the new OHCHR office. The UN had been monitoring human rights under the 1994 Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights, which became part of a comprehensive peace agreement in 1996 between the Government of Guatemala and the Unidad Revolucionaria Nacional Guatemalteca (URNG).

Earlier this year, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) reported that "criminality and violence continued at alarming rates, posing security risks, particularly to women. It has been reported that in 2003, an average of one woman a day was killed by violence."

While assisting the Government with the overall human rights situation, the new office aims to promote "the full enjoyment of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Guatemalan people in general, and more specifically of individuals and communities at risk of being victims of human rights abuses, including vulnerable groups such as women, children, indigenous peoples, minorities, human rights defenders, journalists and others," OHCHR said when it announced plans for the office late last year.

2004-08-12 00:00:00.000

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