Guatemalan president demands commission desist from abortion activism

Giammattei President of Guatemala, Alejandro Giammattei, in protocolary session of the Permanent Council of the OAS. | Credit: Juan Manuel Herrera/OAS (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

In a June 28 protocol session of the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States in Washington, D.C., Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei demanded that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) “respect the sovereignty and freedom of each state” and stop being an “activist” for abortion.

Giammattei criticized the 2021 annual report of the IACHR, which calls out Guatemala in Chapter IV.b. 

The commission noted that Guatemala joined “the ‘Geneva Consensus to Promote Women’s Health and the Promotion of the Family,’” which “expressly excludes abortion as an integral part of women’s right to sexual and reproductive health” and affirms “there is no international obligation of the states to guarantee or facilitate its access.”

In addition, the IACHR criticized Guatemala for “absolutely” prohibiting abortion “except when there is danger to the life of the woman.”

The IACHR demanded that Guatemala adopt “the legislative measures, public policies, and any other measure that may be necessary … to guarantee women’s access to sexual and reproductive health goods and services without any discrimination, including access to the voluntary interruption of pregnancy in cases of danger to life or health, as well as in cases of rape and incest.”

According to its website, the IACHR presents itself as “a principal and autonomous organ of the Organization of American States whose mission is to promote and protect human rights in the American hemisphere.” 

For the president of Guatemala, the report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights shows a “methodological error that makes evident an agenda in favor of abortion that exceeds its powers, because the IACHR should not be an activist on these issues, but rather respect the sovereignty and freedom of each state to decide on these issues.”

As an example, Giammattei pointed to “the recent ruling that we saw here in the United States regarding this,” referring to the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 24 ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which declared there is no constitutional “right” to abortion. 

The president of Guatemala noted that his country “has complied with its human rights commitments at all times and has provided the commission with all the information it has requested.”

In addition, he stressed that “it’s necessary that we work together to strengthen the Inter-American Human Rights System, because the illegality and disrespect for [the country’s] regulations that are perpetrated today against Guatemala may tomorrow occur against any other country that is a member of the organization.”

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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