Lynchings in Guatemala on the Rise, Warns U.N. Mission

GUATEMALA CITY, AUG. 30, 2002 ( The U.N. Mission in Guatemala reported mounting concern in the country over the increase in lynchings, which have claimed 23 lives this year.

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Since 1996, the year the civil war formally ended, 354 cases of lynching have been reported, according to Tom Koenigs, head of the U.N. mission.

A U.N. study reveals that 79% of the lynchings take place in seven departments, which also have the majority of human rights violations, and where 92% of the peasant massacres took place during the long war.

«The lynchings have nothing to do with local traditions, but have their origin in the effects of violence and terror that afflicted Guatemalans for decades,» Koenigs explained.

The U.N. mission accused President Alfonso Portillo’s government «of not putting into practice a real plan to try to resolve the problem.»

Previously, human rights groups said that lynchings have spread especially in the remotest areas, where poverty is high and trust in judicial institutions is low.

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