Practice Relating to Rule 98. Enforced Disappearance
In 2006, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Guatemala stated:
151. Decree No. 33-96 introduced an additional article, 201 ter, [to the Criminal Code] which established enforced disappearance as an offence.
The offence of enforced disappearance is committed by any person who, on the orders or with the authorization or support of the State authorities, deprives a person or persons of their liberty for political reasons, concealing their whereabouts or refusing to reveal their fate or acknowledge their detention, or by a public official or employee, whether a member of the State security forces or not, who orders, authorizes, supports or acquiesces in any such acts.
152. The offence of enforced disappearance shall consist of the deprivation of the liberty of one or more persons, even in the absence of political grounds, by elements of the State security forces in their official capacity, if they act arbitrarily or with an abuse or excess of force. The offence of enforced disappearance is also committed by members of organized groups or gangs having terrorist, insurgent or subversive purposes or any other criminal purpose who, as members of or participants in such groups or gangs, engage in abduction or kidnapping.
153. The offence shall be deemed to persist until such time as the victim is released.
154. A person who is guilty of enforced disappearance shall be sentenced to 25 to 40 years’ imprisonment and the maximum term of imprisonment shall be replaced by the death penalty in cases where, for the purpose of or in the process of the enforced disappearance, the victim suffers serious, very serious or fatal injuries or permanent psychological damage.