Practice Relating to Rule 159. Amnesty
Section A. Amnesty for participation in non-international armed conflicts
Guatemala’s National Reconciliation Law (1996) foresees the “total release from penal responsibility for political crimes committed during the armed internal confrontation” and “the total release from penal responsibility for common crimes … connected to” such political crimes.
However, the Law states:
The release from penal responsibility … does neither apply to crimes of genocide, torture and forced disappearance nor to the crimes which are not subject to limitations or which, in conformity with internal law or international treaties ratified by Guatemala, do not allow the release from penal responsibility.
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:
The internal armed conflict gave rise to acts that could, in legal terms, be classed as political offences or ordinary offences. In the interests of achieving peace and reconciliation in Guatemala, there was a need for fair and even-handed treatment that took into account the various circumstances and factors involved in the armed conflict. To that end, the National Reconciliation Act was adopted under Decree No. 1445-96, which laid an obligation on the State to assist victims of armed conflict, such assistance to be provided, under the supervision of the Peace Secretariat, by governmental measures and programmes of a civil, social and economic nature. The Act does not, however, apply to the crimes of genocide, torture and enforced disappearance, or to any other offences that are not subject to statutory limitations or discharge from criminal liability in accordance with domestic law and the international treaties ratified by Guatemala.