WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas

(AP Photo/Luis Soto)

24 Jun 2020 | Joint Statement

Guatemala’s Congress Must Elect Independent People of Integrity to Shape the Next Courts

Guatemala City, San Jose, Washington DC, June 23, 2020. In compliance with the Constitutional Court’s ruling on May 6, 2020, this week the Congress of Guatemala must elect 13 judges to the Supreme Court of Justice and 135 to the country’s Court of Appeals. International organizations have followed this important process for justice in Guatemala since its beginning in June 2019, and we have repeatedly expressed our deep concern about irregularities in the work of the nomination commissions and the scandal of the “Parallel Commissions 2020” case, revealed by the Special Prosecutor Office against Impunity (FECI) of the Public Prosecutor’s Office.

In this last phase of the process, the Constitutional Court has issued clear guidelines for the Congress to choose capable, suitable, honest, and honorable people to make up the courts and has expressed that “those professionals whose suitability and honorability is compromised must be excluded from the election process,” in reference to the notorious facts reported by the Public Prosecutor’s Office in the “Parallel Commissions 2020” case. For this reason, Congress must exclude from the process those who appear in the detailed report presented by the Public Prosecutor’s Office, which contains information on 22 candidates involved in the “Parallel Commissions 2020” case, five candidates to the Supreme Court of Justice and 17 candidates to the Courts of Appeal. Congress should also consider the information presented by the Public Prosecutor’s Office on 109 other people who are involved in other investigations by the office.

The congresspeople are responsible for thoroughly examining the candidates’ files, the information provided by the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the objections presented by civil society, which were not taken into account by the nomination commissions.

It is important to emphasize that the Supreme Court of Justice and the Courts of Appeal must be composed of persons with the professional and ethical merits necessary to perform their functions with competence, independence and impartiality, in accordance with the provisions of the international commitments signed by the State of Guatemala and reiterated by the Guatemalan Constitution, which requires the appointment of capable, suitable, honest and honorable people.

The international organizations call on the Guatemalan Congress to safeguard the independence of the justice system and comply with the constitutional requirements highlighted in the Constitutional Court’s ruling. To this end, Congress must:

  1. Exclude the 22 persons involved in the “Parallel Commissions 2020″ case, as well as those involved in other serious investigations of corruption or other crimes, or when there are serious indications that they are involved because they lack the ethical qualities of honesty and recognized honorability required by the Guatemalan Constitution.
  2. Safeguard the principles of transparency and publicity, by proclaiming their vote and indicating the reasons why they consider that the candidate does or does not comply with the requirements established in the Constitution.
  3. Appoint new judges on the basis of their merits and objectively established capacities, ensuring adequate gender representation in the formation of the next courts.



Lawyers Without Borders Canada

Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL)

Due Process of Law Foundation (DPLF)

Impunity Watch

Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights