WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
4 Nov 2022 | Joint Statement

The State of Guatemala Must Comply With the Resolution of the IACHR Court and Cease the Persecution Against Judge Miguel Ángel Gálvez

Guatemala City, The Hague, San José and Washington DC, November 4, 2022. The international organizations subscribing to this statement raise our voice of alarm at the progress of the pre-trial process against Judge Miguel Ángel Gálvez, in charge of the High-Risk Court B of Guatemala. We also condemn the threats and attacks against him by the Foundation against Terrorism and groups of ex-military personnel who seek impunity for the atrocious crimes committed during the internal armed conflict.

Judge Galvez has a trajectory of more than 20 years in the Judicial Branch and has heard some of the most relevant cases of corruption and crimes against humanity in the country. The criminal harassment against him violates the United Nations Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary, which guarantee the immunity of judges for legitimate actions carried out in the exercise of their judicial functions.

The pre-trial against Judge Galvez is based on a criminal complaint filed by the Foundation against Terrorism for the alleged crimes of abuse of authority, prevarication and illegal detentions, allegedly for having ordered the “provisional imprisonment” of persons implicated in corruption cases, exceeding the terms established by law. The complaint is based on false facts and is unfounded, since not only does it refer to persons whose trials were never in charge of the judge, but also no documentary evidence is attached to support it, as required by law.

In addition, the applicable regulations require that the complaint be filed by those who are directly aware of the facts, and the Fundación contra el Terrorismo is not a party in any of the cases denounced.

In spite of these serious deficiencies, which evidence the spurious nature of the accusation, the Supreme Court of Justice processed the pre-trial and appointed Magistrate Roaldo Chávez as investigator, who summoned Judge Gálvez for this Friday, November 4, to present his evidence. However, there are doubts about the impartiality of the investigator because he is a former classmate of lawyer Raúl Falla of the Foundation against Terrorism.

Judge Galvez has had precautionary measures from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights since 2016 and provisional measures from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights as of July of this year. The IACHR Court ordered the State of Guatemala to reinforce the judge’s security measures, protect his judicial independence and guarantee justice to the families of the victims of the Diario Militar Case. However, the State of Guatemala has not complied with these measures, nor has it investigated the origin of the threats to prosecute those responsible, in addition to allowing the pre-trial proceedings against the judge to continue.

For this reason, we request the Supreme Court of Justice of Guatemala to comply with the resolution of the Inter-American Court and cease the persecution against Judge Galvez, reinforce security measures for the judge and his family, and assume responsibility for protecting the independence of judges against attacks by individuals and groups that only seek to undermine justice.