Anna Walther, M.A. ’08

Published: July 16, 2013

Author: Renée LaReau

Anna Walther

Anna Walther is an attorney in the Human Rights Office of the Archbishop of Guatemala.

In her position, she assesses how human rights law applies to local cases, including violent events from Guatemala's 30-year armed conflict and inhumane treatment of transgender prisoners and people with mental disabilities.

A graduate of Loyola Marymount University's Loyola Law School, she received a Loyola Public Interest Fellowship (2011-13), which funds her current work.

Anna coordinates a joint project with Disability Rights International, advocating for the rights of patients in Guatemala's only national mental health hospital, the Federico Mora Hospital in Guatemala City. A 2012 inspection of the facility revealed widespread abuse of children and adults, women subjected to sexual violence, and denial of basic medical care.

"Visiting the hospital to document abuses, interview people and monitor the situation is the most difficult part of my job," Anna says. "The conditions are so extreme that it is draining, shocking, and disturbing to visit"

Advocacy by the two groups led an international commission on human rights – the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights – to grant precautionary measures urging the Guatemalan government to take steps to protect patients and relocate them to community-based facilities.

"We hope to negotiate a solution with the State of Guatemala so people with mental disabilities will not be subject to these inhumane conditions, Anna says.

"Thanks to my peace studies education, I'm able to look at conflict situations from more than a purely legal perspective," she adds. "My time at Kroc provided me with important negotiation and mediation tools, and a grasp of the importance of dialogue across ideological and political divides"

As a Kroc master's student, Anna interned at the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom in New York, a group that advocates for disarmament, women's rights, racial and economic justice, and an end to all forms of violence.