The legal provisions that exempt minors from prosecution for homicide permit criminal outfits to “act with impunity,” Rodolfo Diaz – an attorney with the Survivors’ Foundation, which counsels victims of violence – told Efe.
Capitalizing on Guatemalan laws shielding minors from criminal prosecution, organized crime gangs are training kids between 10 and 12 in the use of firearms and techniques for carrying out attacks and thus turning them into “child hitmen.”
“There are no official figures, but the cases are there for all to see,” a police officer told Efe.
Police security cameras captured footage Tuesday of a boy of around 10 pulling out an automatic pistol and shooting a taxi driver twice in the head on this capital’s north side.
That same footage shows the minor subsequently hiding the weapon under his clothes and, seemingly unfazed, boarding a bus and fleeing the scene as several stunned witnesses looked on.
Efe made repeated attempts to obtain a statement from the Interior Ministry about the crime but the calls went unanswered.
The police officer, however, said on condition of anonymity that “little” is being done to prevent children from being recruited by criminal gangs.