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29 Aug 2016

Manuela Picq, Intercontinental Cry Magazine (Canada)

Guatemala: Mayan lawyers´ strategic litigation advances indigenous rights; cases include extractive industries, dams & agriculture

"Nim Ajpu: Indigenous lawyers who are changing the face of Guatemala", 19 Aug 2016

Nim Ajpu is...the name of the Association of Maya Lawyers and Notaries in Guatemala. The association supports the individual and collective rights of Indigenous Peoples through strategic litigation. Because the Maya represent over 60 percent of the population...Nim Ajpu is unable to defend all Maya peoples in court, so it chooses instead to take strategic cases that can help set legal precedents...They play a crucial role in shaping ideas, whether it is by contesting government attempts to regulate prior consultation (2012) or to pass laws privatizing corn seeds (2015)…When the mayor of San Juan de Sacatepéquez canceled a consultation on the construction of a cement company, protests erupted and a militarization of the area followed. Maya lawyers took the case pushing courts to make a first sentence on Indigenous rights to prior, free, and informed consultation…Maya lawyers defended ancestral authorities criminalized for defending rivers against extractive industries. Private companies, many of them hydroelectric projects, corrupt judges and accuse community leaders of fabricated crimes to keep them behind bars without due process...