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Republic of Guatemala[1] [print]

Last edited:  November 2005

 Summary and Analysis

Guatemala ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990.  Guatemala's constitution recognizes international human rights treaties as superior to domestic law.  Following ratification, it drafted a Children's and Adolescents' Code, the enforcement of which was repeatedly postponed and never enacted.  NGO reports to the UN attribute this initial code's failure partially to Guatemala's traditionally authoritative culture, which generally rejects the best interest concept, as evidenced by the country's history of public policy planning.  The NGOs also point to Guatemala's traditionally discriminatory society, which has been especially detrimental to those in rural areas, indigenous peoples, the poor, children, and females.  This code was also criticized for focusing too much on children's need for protection and too little on children's rights. 

 

The Children's and Adolescents' Code was replaced by a rewritten code in 2002 -- the Law for the Fundamental Protection of Childhood and Adolescence, which came into force in July 2003. 

 

The law, in Article 126, provides the Courts of Childhood and Adolescence the authority to order removal of the child from the home and into substitute temporary shelter in situations where the child's human rights have been violated.  It also provides nongovernmental human rights organizations the right to participate as parties in the process. 


The law provides that children are appointed an attorney in every child protection case, which is usually provided by the government's children's services agency.  However, it could also be a private attorney or an attorney from an NGO, depending on the judge. 

 

The law provides that the child has the right to be listened to and his or her opinions taken into account through every stage of the process, including at a hearing before a judge.  Often this is considered to have occurred through a mother or grandmother speaking on behalf of the child.  Despite what the law provides, however, in practice, the child may or may not be heard, depending on the judge and the situation.

 

Sources of Law (In Order of Authority)

 

Original Text

 

International Law

 

La Convención sobre los Derechos del Niño[2]

Artículo 12

1. Los Estados Partes garantizarán al niño que esté en condiciones de formarse un juicio propio el derecho de expresar su opinión libremente en todos los asuntos que afectan al niño, teniéndose debidamente en cuenta las opiniones del niño, en función de la edad y madurez del niño.

2. Con tal fin, se dará en particular al niño oportunidad de ser escuchado, en todo procedimiento judicial o administrativo que afecte al niño, ya sea directamente o por medio de un representante o de un órgano apropiado, en consonancia con las normas de procedimiento de la ley nacional.

 

Statutes

 

Ley de Protección Integral de la Niñez y Adolescencia[3]

 

Artículo 9. Vida.  Los niños, niñas y adolescentes tienen derecho fundamental a la vida. Es obligación del Estado garantizar su supervivencia, seguridad y desarrollo integral.  Los niños, niñas y adolescentes tienen derecho a la protección, cuidado y asistencia necesaria para lograr un adecuado desarrollo fisico, mental, social y espiritual. Estos derechos se reconocen desde su concepción.

 

Articulo 82. Clasificación.  Para los efectos de la presente Ley, las políticas de protección integral de la niñez y la adolescencia, en su orden, son las siguientes: . . . d) Políticas de Garantía: El conjunto de acciones formuladas por el Estado y la sociedad, para garantizar a los niños, niñas y adolescentes sujetos a procedimientos judiciales o administrativos, las garantías procesales mínimas.

 

Artículo 108. Atribuciones de la Procuraduría General de la Nación y del Ministerio Público.  La Procuraduría General de la Nación a través de la Procuraduría de la Niñez y la Adolescencia tendrá las siguientes atribuciones: a) Representar legalmente a aquellos niños, niñas y adolescentes que carecieren de ella . . .

 

Artículo 116.  Garantías Procesales.  La niñez y la adolescencia amenazados o violados en sus derechos gozarán de las siguientes garantías procesales a) Ser escuchado en su idioma en todas las etapas de proceso y que su opinión y versiones sean tomadas en cuenta y consideradas en la resolución que dicte el Juzgado, debiendo en su caso, estar presente un intérprete; . . . c) Asistir a las audiencias judiciales programadas, acompañado por un trabajador social, psicólogo o cualquier otro profesional similar; d) Recibir información clara y precisa en su idioma materno, sobre el significado de cada una de las actuaciones procesales que se desarrollen en su presencia, así como del contenido y las razones de cada una de las decisiones . . .

 

Artículo 119. Audiencia.  El día y hora señalados para la audiencia, el Juez procederá de la siguiente forma: . . . C) Oirá en su orden al niño, niña o adolescente, al representante de la Procuraduria General de la Nación, al representante de otras instituciones, terceros involucrados, médicos, psicólogos, trabajadores sociales, maestros o testigos que tengan conocimiento del hecho; y a los padres, tutores o encargados . . .

 

Artículo 120. Investigación.  En cualquier momento del proceso, el Juez, de oficio o a petición de parte, ordenará a la Procuraduría General de la Nación realizar las diligencias que permitan recabar información necesaria para resolver el caso.

 

Artículo 121.  Medios de prueba.  La Procuraduria General de la Nación, a fin de proporcionar al juez la información requerida, realizará o solicitará entre otras, las siguientes diligencias: a) Estudios sobre situación socioeconómica y familiar del niño, niña y adolescente; b) Informes médicos y psicológicos de los padres, tutores o responsables; c) Requerir a cualquier institución o persona involucrada, cualquier información que contribuya a restablecer los derechos del afectado.

 

Artículo 123. Audiencia.- El día y hora señalados para la continuación de la audiencia, el juez procederá de la siguiente forma: . . . b) Oirá en su orden al niño, niña o adolescente, al representante de la Procuraduría General de la Nación, representantes de otras instituciones o terceros involucrados, profesionales, testigos y por último a los padres, tutores o encargados . . .

 

Translation[4]

 

International Law

 

Convention on the Rights of the Child

 

Article 12

1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.

2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.

 

Statutes

 

The Law of Fundamental Protection of Childhood and Adolescence

 

Article 9.  Life.  Children and adolescents have a fundamental right to life.  It is the obligation of the State to guarantee their survival, security, and integral development.  Children and adolescents have a right to such protection, care, and assistance as is necessary to achieve an adequate physical, mental, social, and spiritual development.  These rights are recognized from conception. 

 

Article 82. Classification.  For the purposes of the present Act, the policies of integral protection of childhood and adolescence, in their order, are as follows: . . . d) Guarantee policies: The combination of actions formulated by the State and society, in order to guarantee minimum procedural standards to those children and adolescents subject to judicial or administrative proceedings.

 

Article 108: Duties of the Office of the Attorney General of the Nation and of the Public Ministry.  The Office of the Attorney General of the Nation through the Childhood and Adolescence Office will have the following duties:  a) To legally represent those children and adolescents who lack representation . . .

 

Article 116. Procedural guarantees.  Children and adolescents whose human rights have been threatened or violated enjoy the following procedural guarantees:  A) To be listened to in their own language in all stages of the process and to have their opinion and version of the story taken into account and considered in the resolution reached by the Court, and depending on the circumstances, to have an interpreter present; C) To attend the scheduled judicial hearings accompanied by a social worker, psychologist or another similar professional; D) To receive clear and specific information in their maternal language about the significance of each of the proceedings that happen in their presence, as well as about the content of and the reasons for each one of the decisions . . .

 

Article 119. Hearing. On the date and time scheduled for the hearing, the Judge will proceed in the following way . . . c) The Judge will hear, in their order, the child or adolescent, the representative of the Office of the Attorney General of the Nation, the representative of other institutions, third parties involved, doctors, psychologists, social workers, teachers or witnesses that have knowledge of the facts; and then parents, guardians or other individuals in charge of the child or adolescent . . .

 

Article 120. Investigation. At any time during the process, the Judge, by his own authority or upon party petition, will direct the Office of the Attorney General of the Nation to implement investigative procedures that will allow the recovery of such evidence as is necessary to resolve the case.

 

Article 121. Means of Proof. - The Office of the Attorney General of the Nation, in order to provide the Judge with the required information, will carry out or will request, among other things, the following:  A) Studies detailing the socioeconomic and family situation of the child or adolescent; B) Medical and psychological reports of the parents, guardians, or other individuals formally responsible for the child or adolescent; C) Requests of information from any institution or involved person that may help to restore the rights of the one affected. 

 

Article 123. Hearing. On the date and time indicated for the continuation of the hearing, the Judge will proceed in the following manner:  B) The Judge will hear, in their order, the child or adolescent, the representative of the Office of the Attorney General of the Nation, representatives of other institutions or involved third parties, professionals, witnesses and finally the parents, guardians or other persons in charge of the child or adolescent. 

 

 

Local Contact Information

 

Mariana de del Alguila

CIPRODENI

ciprodenise@c.net.gt

502-2220-3174

 

 

Additional resources and links

 

Republic of Guatemala Constitution -- 1985 Constitution with 1993 reforms (in Spanish), available at http://confinder.richmond.edu/ and also here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

 



Endnotes

[1] This page is also available as a .pdf Document, and Word Document.

[2] Convention on the Rights of the Child (28 I.L.M. 1448)

[3] LEY DE PROTECCION INTEGRAL DE LA NIÑEZ Y ADOLESCENCIA.  CONGRESO DE LA REPUBLICA GUATEMALA, C. A., DIRECCION LEGISLATIVA, PASE A LAS COMISIONES DE LEGISLACIÓN Y DE LA MUJER, EL MENOR Y LA FAMILIA PARA SU ESTUDIO Y DICTAMEN CONJUNTO, available at http://www.casa-alianza.org/es/index.php/site/documentos/derechos_de_la_ninez_derechos_humanos/ley_de_proteccion_integral_de_la_ninez_decreto_27_2003 and also as .pdf Document.

[4] Unofficial Translation.

 

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