On February 26 the Supreme Court of Guatemala sentenced retired army officer Francisco Reyes Giron and former paramilitary fighter Heriberto Valdéz Asij to 120 years and 240 years in prison, respectively, for crimes against humanity—including sexual violence, forced disappearances and murder—in the Sepur Zarco case.
The verdict marks the first time in history that there is justice for crimes of sexual slavery committed during armed conflict that were prosecuted in the same country where they occurred. Alianza Rompiendo el Silencio y la Impunidad – the collective most strongly advocating for justice – is comprised of feminist and human rights organizations, and committed to justice for women. The collective was formed in 2009 to accompany the path towards justice for Guatemalan women victims of sexual violence during the internal armed conflict.
Survivors have demanded justice for these crimes for more than 3 decades. Survivors and allies alike cheered when the Judge Yassmin Barrios handed down the sentences. Erika Guevara-Rosas of Amnesty International remarked, “these historic convictions send the unequivocal message that sexual violence is a serious crime and that no matter how much time passes, it will be punished. It is a great victory for the 11 women who embarked on a 30-year-long battle for justice.”
Guatemala sentences two to 360 years in sex slave case, Al Jazeera, 27 February 2016
Guatemala war crimes verdict breaks grip of impunity Christian, Science Monitor, 26, February, 2016
Guatemala: Rape sentences in landmark military trial, BBC News, 27 February 2016