SweFOR has been present in Guatemala since 2000. The work is focused on defending human rights through international accompaniment.
At SweFOR we have extensive experience accompanying human rights defenders and other civil society and peace actors. In 2000, we joined the Project of International Accompaniment in Guatemala (ACOGUATE). The project started on the initiative of various autonomous European and North American organizations, which are devoted to offering protection and support for persons and organizations defending human rights through proactive presence and international accompaniment. The organizations taking part in ACOGUATE also diffuse information in their own countries about the accompanied human rights defender’s work and the human rights context in Guatemala. The goal is to augment consciousness by reaching an extensive international action network, thus providing further protection for the defenders.
ACOGUATE was first formed after a petition for international accompaniment by the Association for Justice and Reconciliation (AJR), on behalf of The Center for Legal Action in Human Rights. The petition came as a result of the legal denunciations against the former generals Romero Lucas García and Efraín Rios Montt and their high commands, in 2000 and 2001 respectively. Today, ACOGUATE offers accompaniment to human rights defenders working in three thematic areas: the struggle for justice and against impunity, defense of territory and natural resources, and the struggle for labor and union rights.
What is international accompaniment?
Our focus is the defense of human rights. We are impartial and do not take sides in any conflict, categorically rejecting all forms of violence.
SweFOR’s main objective is aimed at creating greater space for peaceful, democratic action for Guatemalans as well as Guatemalan organizations, whose work in defending human rights places them at risk of aggression. SweFOR’s international presence helps prevent aggression against those we accompany, and protect their physical and mental integrity. Thus, an international presence can help stop violence and also serve to recognize and dignify the work of accompanied persons and organizations. Among our objectives is also the dissemination of information on the situation of human rights, as well as providing moral support to human rights defenders and accompanied organizations.
Who can be accompanied?
SweFOR accompanies civil society, non-violent actors, both persons and organizations, who through their work promote respect and fulfillment of human rights.
How do we carry out accompaniment?
In Guatemala accompaniment is organized through the ACOGUATE coordination. We have permanent presence in four regions of the country and accompany almost 30 organizations, conducting house visits, accompanying at risk defenders when traveling in country, and at meetings, gatherings, celebrations and court cases.
We seek to create greater awareness regarding the situation faced by human rights defenders and, by so doing, hope to improve the context in which they work. We maintain an ongoing dialogue with representatives of organizations and the international community, such as embassies and international organizations like the United Nations, as well as national authorities engaged in promoting human rights.
We have the support of networks and rapid-action mechanisms that allow us to disseminate information and create immediate responses should human rights defenders, their organizations, or other people with whom we work face aggression.
Coordinator: Cecilia Gadd
Email to the team of accompaniers: email@example.com