Guatemalan Pres approves damages payment in street child murder

Tom Boland (
Mon, 22 Mar 1999 20:56:07 -0800 (PST)


Casa Alianza [Covenant House, Latin American branch]


March 18th,1999


The Guatemalan government has announced that the payment of compensation
for the murder of street child Nahaman Carmona Lopez, kicked to death by
4 uniformed policemen in 1990, is in its final stages, signalling a
clear victory for justice and human rights campaigners.

According to government spokeswoman Rosamaria Cabrera Ortiz, the
president of Guatemala, Alvaro Arzu, gave - two days ago - written
authorisation for the payment of compensation to be made. Coming just
days after the 9th anniversary of the death of the 13 year old, Ortiz
implied that the international support for Casa Alianza's campaign to
have the compensation paid had encouraged the government to act. "I have
the pleasure of telling all of you who have demonstrated concern for the
lamentable case of Nahaman Carmona ...........that yesterday the
President signed the governmental accord that authorises the said
payment," states an open letter from Ortiz to those who wrote letters
and emails of support for compensation to be authorised.

Former street child Nahaman was kicked to death on the streets of
Guatemala City in 1990, by four uniformed police officers. Following his
murder the four officers were eventually convicted and sentenced to 12
years imprisonment in 1992. At the time the public employees were also
ordered to pay 20, 000 Quetzales (US $3,160) to the dead boy's mother.
The compensation was never paid.

Two years ago Casa Alianza presented a civil suit against the four
policemen to recuperate the damages awarded by the courts at the time of
the original convictions. Significantly, according to article 155 of the
Guatemalan constitution, the Government of Guatemala is equally
responsible, together with the employee, for damages caused by public
employees in the execution of their duty. However, despite the fact that
the compensation has never been paid, the government of Guatemala -
until now - has never assumed responsibility for the payment of
compensation as outlined within the Guatemalan Constitution.

"I wish to express the good will that this government has shown in order
to complete with the law," continues the open letter by Ortiz which
fails to make any reference to the huge amounts of pressure which were
necessary to get the government to this point. She does however,
acknowledge that the case has, "regrettably not (been carried out) with
the speed that a case like this merits."

According to Ortiz whilst the authorization for payment has been made by
the President, the day when Nahaman's family will get to see the
compensation could still be months away, as the authorization has to be
approved and cleared by at least two other governmental ministries.

"This news represents a victory for all of those campaigners who have
backed Casa Alianza in this quest," said Bruce Harris the Executive
Director of Casa Alianza, "however, we will not be happy until the
compensation is firmly in the hands of Nahaman's family. And while the
case of Nahaman represents a very good start in terms of official
acknowledgment of human rights abuses, the government still needs to do
more to guarantee the application of laws which will protect the victims
of human rights abuses especially when the victims are homeless
children," he finished.

Congratulations and thanks to the hundreds of you who have written on
behalf of Nahaman. As you can see it works! Please take the time to
feel proud of what you have achieved to date. Now we ask your support in
doing it again.......

In order to show the Guatemalan government that this case remains in the
forefront of the minds of concerned people around the world, PLEASE send
a short, polite message which:

acknowledges the governmentís positive move, but also the need for the
process of compensation to be completed.

that once and for all the government assumes itís Constitutional
responsibility and pay Nahamanís mother the minimal sum as ordered by
the courts in the criminal case. (The Court, 7 years ago, ordered it be
paid within 3 days of the 1992 sentencing).

that the Guatemalan government fulfils an act of good faith in the face
of global concern, and name a school or park in Nahaman's name as a
permanent memory of his death and his childhood lost. This has not been
mentioned by the Ministry of the Presidency.

Please send messages to:
President Alvaro Arzu <>

Rosamaria Cabrera Ortiz < >
Sub Secretaria General de la Presidencia de la Republica
7 Avenida 3-54, Zona 1
Guatemala, Guatemala Fax: +502-232-9968
The following media:
El Grafico <>
El Periodico <>
Siglo XXI <>
Prensa Libre <>
Cronica <>
La Hora <>
And a copy please to <>



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