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  • Human Rights Organizations, Legal Experts Call on Morales to Uphold Guatemalan Court Decision on Safe Third Country Agreement

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    WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following the latest action by Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales to advance a Safe Third Country agreement with the United States, more than a dozen human rights organizations and individuals wrote to President Morales today urging him to reject the deal.

    The letter, which was also addressed to the presidents of the constitutional court and congress, noted that “These types of agreements violate the rights of refugees and both nations’ legal framework.…We urge the Executive and Legislative branches to abide by the Court’s decision, as required by law.”

    The letter was signed by Al Otro Lado, the Women’s Refugee Commission, the Latin American Working Group, the Washington Office on Latin America, among others.

    On July 14, the Guatemalan Constitutional Court issued an injunction against the agreement. Earlier this week, President Morales called the court’s action “unlawful,” and subsequently filed an appeal. The Safe Third Country agreement is being pushed by President Trump across Central American as part of a larger effort to prevent migrant and asylum-seeking families from reaching the U.S. border.

    “This is clearly the motivation of President Trump who, on July 15, announced new regulations that limit access to asylum in his country. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees condemned this measure because it dramatically limits the basic rights and liberties of asylum seekers and undermines collective and coherent regional responses,” the letter stated.

    The letter also noted concerns about security within Guatemala and current limitations regarding the ability to operate as a safe third country.

    “Additionally, as noted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, at the moment, security challenges force thousands of Guatemalans to flee their own country. This situation suggests that Guatemala cannot guarantee effective protection to people who face persecution. Thus, restricting the right to seek asylum in the U.S. would increase the vulnerability of a considerable number of migrants.”

    Morales issued his appeal on the heels of tweets by President Trump threatening tariffs and other economic penalties against the nation, and three weeks ahead of the Guatemalan presidential election.

    Click here for the letter and the English-language translation.