[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 July 2006, 05:16 GMT 06:16 UK
Guatemala urged to act on murders
Maria Isabel Franco was raped and murdered in 2001
The main suspect in Maria Isabel's 2001 murder has yet to be located
Guatemala is still failing to take action over the high number of murders of women and girls in the country, according to Amnesty International.

The rights group said there has been little progress since June 2005, when it called on the authorities to act.

Up to 70% of murders of women are not investigated and no arrests are made in 97% of cases, Amnesty says.

It adds that some officials recognise how serious the problem is, but many still tend to blame the victims.

Amnesty's latest report cites police figures which show that 229 women and girls were killed in Guatemala in the first six months of 2006.

229 women killed so far in 2006
665 women and girls killed in 2005
Between 2002 and 2005, murders of women rose 63%, of men 45%
Source: Amnesty report: "No protection, no justice"

Many of the murders were exceptionally brutal, with the victims suffering sexual violence, mutilation and dismemberment.

Amnesty says that it knows of only two convictions out of 665 murders of women in 2005.


Among the cases highlighted in the report is that of Cristina Hernandez, who was forced into a car outside her home on 27 July 2005.

Her father tried in vain to give chase and then went to a police to report the abduction and to ask the officers to set up roadblocks.

Her father said the officers refused, arguing that girls often ran off with boyfriends and that they could not begin a search for 24 hours.

University student Claudina Velasquez, 19, was murdered on 13 August 2005
Claudina Velazquez's family say her killer knew he was unlikely to be caught

Cristina's body was found the next morning. She had been shot four times and bitten all over her body.

Her family, afraid for their safety, went into hiding. Her killers are still at large.

Amnesty says that in many cases, there is a failure to carry out even basic investigations, process the crime scene and preserve potential evidence.

Heavy case loads, lack of equipment and the shortage of police investigators mean that few cases are pursued vigorously.

Amnesty is calling on the Guatemalan authorities to improve the quality of criminal investigations, including providing more training for investigators.

It also says there should be more efforts to guarantee the safety of witnesses and family members, and to follow up reported abductions of women and girls.

Murder mystery in Guatemala
03 May 06 |  This World
Guatemala's epidemic of killing
09 Jun 05 |  Americas
Murderers prey on Guatemalan women
06 Dec 03 |  Americas
Country profile: Guatemala
01 Jun 05 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Guatemala
12 Mar 05 |  Country profiles

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific