The FIDH welcomes the historic progress in the fight against corruption in Guatemala

Press release
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Today, FIDH is celebrating historic progress in the fight against corruption in Guatemala, marked by the arrest warrant on charges of corruption issued against President Otto Pérez Molina during the night of 2 September, and the decision of the 132 members of Guatemalan Congress attending the session the previous day to lift his presidential immunity.

These facts, and the numerous mass demonstrations by civil society and the people of Guatemala calling for the president’s resignation, led President Otto Pérez Molina to submit his resignation today in the early hours of the morning.

In view of this, the FIDH urges the next president of Guatemala, who may be elected in a single round next Sunday, 6 September to make a strong commitment to taking all necessary action to fight structural corruption in the political sphere, to support publicly and effectively the work of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) and of the prosecutor’s office and to remove all obstacles to effective respect, by the courts, of the principles of independence, impartiality and transparency during the trial of Pérez Molina.

“This judicial process is a major step forward, not only because it brings hope of transparency by a new government, but also because it demonstrates the key role played by a well-organised civil society and the dignity of the Guatemalan people, who are not going to tolerate such practices” , stated Karim Lahidji, FIDH President.

The now former President of Guatemala has been accused of unlawful association, passive bribery and a special type of customs fraud through a network of corruption called La línea that allegedly allowed him to receive bribes from importers who through this channel avoided the payment of customs duties. The former Vice President Roxana Baldetti, who was accused of the same charges, resigned in May 2015 and is now in preventive detention during the procedures that will lead to her trial. Both these processes have been made possible by the work of CICIG.

During our meeting in Guatemala with Iván Velásquez, the CICIG Commissioner, we acknowledged his work on dismantling the main corruption networks and on prosecuting the persons responsible and congratulated him”, added Karim Lahidji. “We hope this sends a clear message to the candidates running for office in the general elections in Guatemala next Sunday: nobody can be exempt from the law.”

In September 2014 a regional seminar organised by the FIDH and CALDH, its member organization in Guatemala, called for the strengthening of the independence and the capacity of the national judicial system, including the renewal of the mandate of the CICIG, led by Iván Velásquez, whose work has proven to be effective.

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