Human Rights Heroes

Foto Prensa Carlos Sebastian

Claudia Paz y Paz

Claudia Paz y Paz was Attorney General of Guatemala from December, 2010 to May, 2014. She was the first woman to hold the position.

A respected criminal law expert and judge with over 18 years of experience, Paz y Paz used her position at Attorney General to bring those responsible for mass human rights abuses in Guatemala to justice. In a country where human rights abusers and organized crime enjoyed near impunity, Paz y Paz made significant strides in piercing the culture of impunity and bringing bringing human rights abusers, corrupt politicians and leaders in organized crime to justice. 

Her aggressive prosecution of organized crime in Guatemala, done in the face of numerous threats to her life, resulting in a 9% drop in crime in Guatemala. She prosecuted former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt for his role in the genocide of over 200,000 indigenous Mayans, and against the perpetrators of the 1982 Dos Erres massacre, when also under the regime of Rios Montt,  over 200 people, including women, the elderly, and children, were tortured and killed by government elite forces. Three of the soldiers were sentenced to over 6,000 years each in prison.

More drug traffickers were arrested in the first six months of Paz y Paz’s term than in the previous decade. Under her leadership, five of Guatemala’s 10 most wanted criminals were caught. Ten times more cases of violence against women and homicide were resolved than in any previous administration.