Washington, D.C.—The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) applauds the decision of Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina to extend the mandate of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (Comisión Internacional contra la Impunidad en Guatemala, CICIG).
“The extension of the mandate represents an important opportunity to strengthen the rule of law and judicial independence in Guatemala,” said Adriana Beltrán, WOLA Senior Associate for Citizen Security.
As WOLA concluded in its recent report on the experience of the CICIG, clandestine groups have adapted since the signing of the Peace Accords, coopting state institutions and looking to reconfigure power from within the government, in order to ensure impunity and achieve their illicit objectives.
“The work of CICIG during its nearly eight years of existence has been instrumental in the fight against criminal networks. The Commission has provided important investigative tools for the prosecution of organized crime, which the country previously lacked. It has helped to resolve emblematic cases of corruption and it has dismantled powerful criminal networks deeply embedded in the state,” Beltrán said. “The recent case involving Guatemala’s tax authority has again demonstrated the power of illicit networks and highlighted the importance of the extension of the CICIG’s mandate to strengthen judicial independence and rule of law, and to protect institutions from influence and cooptation by criminal networks,” added Beltrán.
The CICIG’s continuation in Guatemala had support from a broad range of sectors, including the members of the Enforcement Group of the National Agreement for the Advancement of Security and Justice (the Archbishop of Guatemala, the President of the Evangelical Alliance of Guatemala, the Human Rights Ombudsman, and the rector of the University of San Carlos), the Guatemalan Chamber of Commerce, members of the Guatemala Forum (Foro Guatemala), the University of Rafael Landívar, the Association for Research and Social Studies (Asociación de Investigación y Estudios Sociales, ASIES), the Pro-Justice Movement (Movimiento Pro Justicia), and numerous human and social rights organizations. The Center for the Defense of the Constitution (Centro para la Defensa de la Constitución, CEDECON), the Tourism Chamber, the Coordinating Committee of Agricultural, Commercial, Industrial, and Financial Associations (Comité Coordinador de Asociaciones Agrícolas, Comerciales, Industriales y Financieras, CACIF), and various political parties also added to the wave of support.
“We hope the widespread support for the efforts of the Commission help to advance the adoption and implementation of important pending reforms. It is equally essential that the state and the judiciary facilitate the conditions for the effective fulfillment of the mandate of the CICIG,” added Beltrán.
WOLA acknowledges the support of the United Nations and of the international community for the efforts of the Commission.