Joint statement on the decision not to renew the mandate of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala and barring its chief commissioner from entry into the country

5 September 2018. International organisations in Europe that cooperate on Guatemala
condemn the decision of President Jimmy Morales not to renew the mandate of the International
Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), as well as the subsequent decision
whereby its Commissioner, Iván Velásquez, has been barred from entering the country, which
put at serious risk the justice system and the rule of law. The CICIG has contributed significantly
to the work of the Public Prosecutor’s Office and to fighting the corruption networks embedded
in the state of Guatemala, but there is still a long way to go before the latter really has strong and
independent institutions. We are concerned that as a result of this decision, the judicial
processes initiated by the CICIG will remain inconclusive, and that the networks of corruption
will regain full control of the state. Therefore, we consider that international accompaniment
and support for the CICIG, including Commissioner Iván Velásquez as well as for the other
key Guatemalan institutions working to uphold the rule of law, such as the Public Prosecutor’s
Office, independent judges, and the Human Rights Ombudsman, remains imperative.

In recent years, we have noted with concern the constant defamation campaigns against
Commissioner Iván Velásquez and other CICIG officials by the Government of Guatemala and
powerful groups that feel threatened by their investigations. The fact that President Morales
declared Commissioner Velásquez persona non grata and tried to expel him from the country in
August 2017, because the CICIG had initiated investigations against his son and brother for acts
of corruption, and has now barred Commissioner Velásquez, who has initiated a process
against President Morales on allegations of his party receiving illicit financing during the
electoral campaign of 2015, from entry into the country, is a case in point.

We are gravely concerned that on 31 August 2018, the Government of Guatemala used tanks
and heavily armed policemen to intimidate CICIG personnel, as well as Guatemalan citizens,
while announcing the decision not to renew the mandate of the CICIG. The image of President
Jimmy Morales surrounded by the military and police at the press conference evokes the
memory of the coup d’état and the military dictatorships during the dark years of the internal
armed conflict, and generates fear in the population. The use of intimidation measures like these demonstrate the real risk that Guatemala will return to past repression and impunity. The
international community cannot stand by and tolerate the use of such intimidation or of
undemocratic practices of this kind.

In light of the foregoing, we call on the European Union and its Member States to demand that
the state of Guatemala complies with its international obligations and guarantees the necessary
conditions for Commissioner Iván Velásquez and the CICIG to continue their work safely and
independently. This is all the more important, given the crucial support the CICIG gives to the
development of independently functioning rule of law institutions in Guatemala. Moreover, we
call on the European Union and its Member States to see to it that the state of Guatemala
respects the human rights of its citizens and does not return to the violent, repressive and
undemocratic practices of the past.

Read more
statement