Perhaps we all can agree that war crimes are such horrible acts against humanity that they rightly belong to a separate category from that of normal crimes. It is for such reason that they’re referred to as “crimes against humanity”.
However, Guatemala’s seems to think that that’s not the case. And his efforts to release captured war criminals is quite alarming for all of us. Only a few outsiders realize that a genocide has actually occurred in Guatemala during the Cold War, after which the killings only stopped after a peace accord was signed in agreement to the National Reconciliation Law.
Of course, the country had no choice but to offer painful sacrifices despite the great suffering it has been through. Guatemalans are urged to forgive almost all war crimes committed just to attain the peace they’ve been longing for. The state implemented a law that seeks to punish everyone who committed the worst atrocities, and that includes massacres, kidnapping, and war crimes.
However, as of late, a group of legislators is aiming to revoke all exceptions to the said agreement. Once passed, it would allow all those war criminals to roam free throughout the country in just 24 hours, and all it takes is a signature by its president, Jimmy Morales.
If the Guatemalan government manage to undo the reconciliation agreement, then it could heavily affect the transitional justice efforts all around the world.
This move to absolve war criminals of their crimes is a heavy blow to humanity, and the US government should make it clear to the Guatemalan government. Upholding the original law is for everyone’s interest, and such decision by the Guatemalan government could only worsen impunity in the country, causing more and more citizens to leave.
If left unattended, it could send a message to other combatants around the world with regards to reconciliation – and the innocent citizens will be the ones to pay to price.