delegation's human rights concerns; in fact, most of the officials with whom the delegates spoke acknowledged and condemned the abuses. When asked by the delegation for direct telephone and telefax numbers and a commitment to respond promptly to future requests for information or expressions of concern about scientific colleagues, the officials immediately provided the numbers and assurances of prompt replies were given. (The CHR has subsequently received timely replies to its case inquiries from the army and the Supreme Court. COPREDEH has also sent information on human rights issues of interest to the CHR.)
The delegation was encouraged by the open and frank manner in which the meetings were conducted and impressed by the consistency with which government officials considered human rights progress an important issue. We are hopeful that this promising beginning will continue and that a dialogue will be maintained as the human rights situation and the committees' concerns evolve.
The government of Guatemala has clearly made some progress on human rights in the last year, and the delegation recognizes that any progress in a country with an entrenched military and a history of horrendous violence and impunity from prosecution for human rights crimes deserves credit. At the same time, the delegation concludes that the government of Guatemala must take stronger action to stop the ongoing political murders and bring those responsible for such abuses to justice.
The government of Guatemala cannot wait for peace to undertake its responsibility to protect and defend those whose lives continue to be in jeopardy because they choose to exercise their basic human rights and freedoms or because they are involved in the judicial processes of politically sensitive cases.
With the emergence of free and fair elections and efforts to establish democracy in Guatemala, there is a sincere desire on the part of our Guatemalan scientific colleagues to use this opening to speak out against human rights abuses and to report them to groups such as the Human Rights Office of the Archdiocese and the ombudsman's office, as well as other human rights groups both within and outside the country. Nongovernmental human rights organizations appeared to be encouraged by President Serrano's expressions of support for the promotion and protection of human rights. There was, nevertheless, a palpable concern on the part of these organizations for the safety of human rights activists. There was also concern because the families of disappeared or murdered people are often too fearful to press charges, so that investigations cannot even begin.
Guatemalan scientists and others involve themselves in human rights