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Guatemala signed a peace accord in 1997, after 36 years of conflict. But the legacy of violence continues to haunt its population, especially indigenous people and women, who face ethnic and gender-based discrimination. A culture of impunity dominates the government’s legal system. Only 3 per cent of violent deaths are ever investigated. Violence, especially violence against women, is escalating. Indigenous people in Guatemala have their own traditional justice system, which operates alongside that of the state, although not on an equal legal footing. This paper looks at the relative successes of traditional conflict-resolution mechanisms, and examines how indigenous women are using Indigenous People’s Defence Organisations to seek justice.

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