Guatemala: historic Ríos Montt conviction overturned

Here is my latest piece published in the IBA Global Insight newsfeed:

On 10 May it looked as if history had finally been made when former Guatemalan dictator General José Efraín Ríos Montt became the first person ever to be convicted of genocide in a domestic court.

86-year-old Ríos Montt, who came to power in Guatemala following a coup on 23 March 1982, stood accused of implementing a counter-insurgency policy that massacred more than 1,700 and displaced thousands of other members of indigenous group the Ixil Maya in 1982.

The three-judge panel ruled that Ríos Montt should be sentenced to 80 years in prison, which includes 50 years for genocide, with an additional 30 years added to his sentence for crimes against humanity.

The verdict in itself was of unparalleled historic significance for Guatemala, Central America and human rights as a whole. However, despite the damning 718-page judgment released on 17 May, just ten days later the country’s Constitutional Court dramatically overturned the ruling, effectively resetting the trial back to 19 April.

Published on 22-05-13. Read on here

On the record

Here is my latest article published in Prospect:

Through Wikileaks, phone-hacking, and the obstacles facing journalists across the Middle East, the traditional practices of the media industry have come up against many challenges over the past year. According to Reporters Without Borders, around 57 journalists were killed last year in connection with their work. This month a new play On the Record arrives at London’s Arcola Theatre, dramatizing the dangers faced by the world’s independent journalists.

Stories about journalists are usually reported either in print or in documentaries, so it is rather novel that Christine Bacon and Noah Birksted-Breen have decided to bring the stories of six real-life journalists to the stage. As Birksted-Breen notes, “it has been a challenge, as obviously the relationship between the actors and the audience is quite different in documentary theatre compared with film documentaries. There isn’t a lot of theatre about journalism and when there is, it’s usually satirising journalism. We really wanted to show how big a difference there is between independent journalism and mainstream media.”

Published on 26-07-11. Read on here

Mexico’s drug war is a global crisis

Mexico guns

Here is my latest article published in Prospect:

On Sunday morning, 27 people were killed and beheaded in northern Guatemala following a raid on a dairy ranch in Caserio La Bomba. The incident has been described as the worst massacre in Guatemala for over 15 years. Amid growing suspicion that the attack may be linked to the rising presence of the Mexican Zeta drug cartel in Guatemala, the massacre may also point to the wider responsibilities of Mexico’s drug war.

Published on 19-05-11. Read on here

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