Guatemala: Future President Must Avoid Potential Setbacks after 10 Years of Justice Progress

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Paris - Guatemala City. Ahead of Sunday’s general elections, FIDH has published a memo highlighting the challenges Guatemala faces in its fight against corruption and impunity and proposing recommendations to address them. The organization calls on the future president to ensure advances in the area of justice in the country and to halt legislative reforms underway that infringe upon and disregard human rights.

Read the memo in English

Investigations into President Jimmy Morales’ family and political party for illegal electoral financing, among other investigations of public employees and business figures, resulted in an alliance of the most conservative sectors of society between the executive branch and those who were negatively affected by improvements in the functioning of the justice system.

This alliance, which includes military personnel involved in serious crimes during the armed conflict and business, political and religious groups linked to acts of corruption, gave rise to what has been called the ‘Corrupt Pact’, which is seeking to reverse the aforementioned advances and prevent the consolidation of a genuine rule of law.

“In just a few years, Guatemala went from being a paradise for criminals to a regional role model in the fight against impunity. The trials of Ríos Montt for genocide and of Otto Pérez Molina and Roxana Baldetti for corruption are prime examples of this. The future president should not allow the recent articulation of the country’s most conservative sectors to put at risk years of work spent on strengthening institutions and the rule of law.”

Jimena Reyes, director of FIDH's Americas desk

Much of this progress was achieved through the work of the Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) which, after more than 11 years of intense work (since August 2007), has become a regional model demonstrating how the international community can make essential contributions to local efforts to strengthen the rule of law.

There are three main setbacks that the so-called ‘Corrupt Pact’ is trying to instigate via legislation: 1) silencing, weakening and controlling the independent civil society (through Initiative 5257), which has been a fundamental ally in the strengthening of the justice system and one of the most critical voices against the actions of the aforementioned pact; 2) promoting impunity for criminals, extending amnesty for all crimes committed in the framework of the conflict, including genocide and crimes against the duties of humanity (Initiative 5377), and 3) toughening the criminalization of women who abort and curbing sex education, imposing archaic moral and religious values (initiative 5272).

In light of this, FIDH calls on the person elected president to ensure that these attempted legislative reforms do not come to fruition and to join efforts to strengthen oversight preventing the use of illicit electoral financing.

Read the full memo below:

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