Benetech’s Daniel Guzmán Testifies in Guatemala Disappearance Case
Testimony on Analysis of Guatemalan National Police Archive Could Set Legal Precedent for Future Prosecution of Disappearances
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 18, 2010, Palo Alto, CA — Benetech statistical consultant Daniel R. Guzmán will present expert legal testimony in Guatemala today in the trial of two former agents of the Guatemalan National Police, Abraham Lancerio Gómez and Héctor Roderico Ramírez. The officers have been accused of complicity in the disappearance of Guatemalan student and union leader Edgar Fernando García who vanished while in police custody in 1984.
Guzmán will testify about police records related to García which were discovered among the estimated 31.7 million documents in the Guatemalan National Police Archive. Together with members of Benetech Human Rights Program, Guzmán has been analyzing these documents at the request of the Guatemalan government and partner NGOs. The documents, which were discovered in a military munitions storehouse near Guatemala City in 2005, contain information about police operations during Guatemala's 36 years of internal armed conflict from 1960 to 1996 during which an estimated 40,000 people disappeared.
"This testimony will help build a case that the police knew about these disappearances," says Guzmán. "If you can show that such documents exist in the archive, you can keep searching for these kinds of records."
This is the first case in the Guatemalan judicial system that is based primarily on archive documents. The testimony presented by Guzmán in this trial will pave the way for judges to trust archive documents as evidence in other human rights cases and establish forced disappearance as a crime against humanity within the Guatemalan judicial system. The case may also help the García family determine the circumstances of his disappearance and hold those responsible accountable for their actions.
"The content of the expert testimony is important, but the competence
of the expert is equally important," says Jorge Villagran, IT manager
of the Guatemalan National Police Archive. "In the case of Benetech,
credibility and technical competence are guaranteed."
Benetech is a nonprofit technology company based in Palo Alto, California.
Benetech pursues projects with a strong social rather than financial
rate of return on investment, harnessing open source technology to create
innovative solutions to challenging social issues. The Benetech Human
Rights Program designs and builds information management solutions and
conducts statistical analysis on behalf of truth commissions and large
human rights projects around the world. The program includes the Benetech
Human Rights Data Analysis Group and the Martus project. The Benetech
Bookshare service is the world's largest accessible online library of
copyrighted books for people with print disabilities. Benetech's most
recent project, Miradi, is a user-friendly software program that helps
environmental conservation groups design, manage, monitor and learn
from their projects.
- Back to Top -