Regarding transitional justice, there were three important trials in 2018:
In May 2018, four of five former high-ranking military officers were convicted of crimes against humanity in the Molina Theissen case, involving the abduction of 14-year-old Marco Antonio Molina Theissen and the illegal detention, torture and rape of his sister Emma Guadalupe. The defendants received sentences of between 33 and 58 years in prison. In the hearing on reparations, the Court ordered Guatemala to create a National Registry of Victims, a National Plan to Search for the Disappeared, and to establish a National Day for Disappeared Children on 6 October, the date on which Marco Antonio disappeared.
Ixil genocide trial: For the second time the Guatemalan courts unanimously ruled that genocide was committed in Guatemala. Despite this forceful ruling, the only surviving defendant (after the death of coup leader Efraín Ríos Montt in April of 2018), Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez, head of military intelligence from 1982 to 1983, was acquitted by a 2-to-1 ruling of the judges.
- Dos Erres massacre trial: Santos López Alonzo, a member of the Kaibil elite military force and in charge of special services and intelligence, was sentenced to 5,160 years in prison for his part in the massacre of Dos Erres (El Petén) in 1982 during the civil war. After the trial was completed, the Court ruled that 7 December would be established a national day to remember the victims as one means of reparation. The Court also ordered the town of Las Cruces in El Petén to hold a public ceremony to remember the victims of the massacre, and ordered the Ministry of Health to ensure the physical and psychological health of the survivors. As another means of reparation, the Court also ordered security measures to protect them.
PBI continuously monitored both the Molina Theissen case and accompanied the lawyers of the Human Rights Law Firm during the genocide hearings in the Ixil and Dos Erres cases.
It must be noted that there is a risk that the progress made with these cases and others before the Guatemalan courts in recent years could be reversed by a proposal to amend the National Reconciliation Law. This proposal is currently being considered by the Guatemalan Congress and received initial approval during the initial deliberations in January 2019.
Meanwhile, the employment contract for the coordinator of the National Police Archive Project (AHPN in Spanish), who has held the post for the past 13 years, has not been renewed. There are concerns that this will lead to a weakening of the AHPN, which has been essential in uncovering evidence in the high-profile trials before the Guatemalan courts. PBI accompanied the AHPN until 2016.