WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas

CENTRAL AMERICA MONITOR:

EVALUATING PROGRESS

Central America’s Northern Triangle region is struggling with violence, corruption and impunity.

Scroll for the key findings or to find links to download the full reports under each area of progress.

Evaluating progress in Central America

As Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras struggle with high levels of violence and insecurity, systemic corruption, and widespread impunity, it’s critical that we find ways to assess how the policies and strategies being implemented in the region are contributing to the strengthening of the rule of law, improving transparency and accountability, and to reducing violence and insecurity. Using a comprehensive series of indicators, the Central American Monitor aims to measure progress and identify trends over time in eight key areas directly relevant to rule of law and security, thus providing critical information that can inform policies and strategic investments in the region.

The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), the Myrna Mack Foundation (FMM) of Guatemala, the University Institute for Public Opinion (Iudop) of the José Simeón Cañas Central American University (UCA) of El Salvador, the University Institute on Democracy, Peace and Security (IUDPAS) of the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH) have developed a series of qualitative and quantitative indicators to evaluate progress in Central America in eight key areas.

GUATEMALA

Central America’s Northern Triangle region is struggling with violence, corruption and impunity.

Scroll for the key findings or to find links to download the full reports under each area of progress.

Areas of progress

GUATEMALA
Areas of progress
1.

Strengthening the Capacity and Independence of Justice Systems

1.1

Capacity of the Justice System

1.2

Internal Independence

1.3

External Independence

GUATEMALA / Areas of progress

1. Strengthening the Capacity and Independence of Justice Systems

1.1
Capacity of the Justice System

For the most part, Guatemala’s justice institutions (prosecutors, judges, forensic experts, and public prosecutors) expanded their reach and staff during the four-year period analyzed. However, there were still significant gaps in coverage. As the accompanying chart shows, between 2014-2017 there was an average of about 6 judges for every 100,000 people in the country. This is below the national global average of 17. During that same period, there was an average of 13.5 prosecutors (investigative officers, assistant prosecutors, and section prosecutors) and 2 forensic experts per 100,000 people. The Monitor also found that a major challenge facing the Guatemalan justice system is excessive caseloads. For example, in 2017 judges were assigned on average nearly 430 cases per year, according to the available data. 

GUATEMALA / Areas of progress

1. Strengthening the Capacity and Independence of Justice Systems

1.2
Internal Independence

Processes for the selection of top-level judicial positions were vulnerable to external influence and manipulation (Attorney General, Magistrates of the Supreme Court of Justice and Appellate Courts, and other courts in the same category). Despite progress creating a more transparent process inline with international standards, the elections have become hyper-politicized and adherent to special interests. Law school deans represent the majority of individuals serving on the nomination committees for these posts. This has given rise to the creation of fake law schools to gain access to the process. Because the responsible nomination commissions have a high degree of discretion in their decisions, this compromises the independence and integrity of the selection processes of the most important judicial authorities in the country. Although the laws governing selection processes are detailed, in the case of Guatemala, they contain loopholes that hinder efforts to implement merit-based selection processes.  Data shows that Guatemala’s primary justice institutions generally had a low rate of investigating and sanctioning justice operators accused of infractions despite measures to improve disciplinary procedures. Of the four institutions examined, the Public Prosecutor’s Office demonstrated a relatively higher level of ability to effectively carry out disciplinary proceedings against public prosecutors and other employees throughout 2014-2017. The other institutions showed little capacity to do so—for example, just under 14 percent of the complaints concerning judges and magistrates filed to the Judiciary disciplinary system ever resulted in a hearing. The accompanying chart tracks what kinds of disciplinary proceedings were filed in the Judiciary between 2014-2017.

GUATEMALA / Areas of progress

1. Strengthening the Capacity and Independence of Justice Systems

1.3
External Independence

An essential component to guaranteeing judicial independence is adequate budget allocation; this allows the justice system to fulfill its obligations and act impartially. The Guatemalan justice institutions analyzed during 2014-2017, were allocated, on average, just 5 percent of the national budget; with the agency in charge of forensics and the public defenders receiving less than 1 percent. With the exception of the Public Ministry in 2017, justice institutions consistently received less money than what they requested. The accompanying chart shows the available data for how much of the budget requests by various justice institutions ended up being allocated, as a percentage. 

GUATEMALA
Areas of progress
2.

Cooperation with Anti-Impunity Commissions

2.1

Political Will and Level of Collaboration

GUATEMALA / Areas of progress

2. Cooperation with Anti-Impunity Commissions

2.1
Political Will and Level of Collaboration

The International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) supported the passage of key laws starting in 2009. These efforts, in particular the reforms pushed forward in 2016 and 2017, such as the Judicial Career Law, demonstrated that Guatemala’s Congress had the political will to cooperate with the Commission at certain times. Nevertheless, between 2014 and 2017, some important reforms were still pending approval due to a lack of cooperation and consensus in Congress, including reforms to the Pre-Trial Law (Ley en Materia de Antejuicio); to the Appeals, Habeas Corpus, and Constitutionality Law (Ley de Amparo, Exhibición Personal y de Constitucionalidad); and to Guatemala’s Constitution.

Institutionally, significant reforms were undertaken so as to cooperate with the work carried out by the CICIG. For example, in the judiciary, the system of High Risk Courts was expanded; at the MP, reforms to the Organic Law of the Public Prosecutor’s Office were implemented; and in the National Civilian Police, teams were designated to collaborate directly on the investigations and operations that the Commission supported.

The CICIG and MP’s investigations into President Jimmy Morales’s son and brother for corruption offenses exacerbated tension between the executive branch and the CICIG. This tension ultimately led to President Morales taking a series of actions that largely halted the Commission’s work and, therefore, the fight against corruption and impunity in Guatemala, which has served to weaken the rule of law.

GUATEMALA
Areas of progress
3.

Combatting Corruption

3.1

Levels of Public Trust

3.2

Scope and Implementation of Legislation to Combat Corruption

3.3

Advancements in Criminal Investigations

3.4

Functioning of Oversight Bodies

GUATEMALA / Areas of progress

3. Combatting Corruption

3.1
Levels of Public Trust

Transparency International annually publishes the Corruption Perceptions Index, classifying countries according to the degree of perceived corruption of public and political officials. The index uses a scale between 0-100, 0 being the most corrupt, and 100 being the absence of corruption. The accompanying graphic shows where Guatemala is ranked on the Transparency International index from 2014 to 2017. As the graph shows, in 2017, Guatemala dropped seven places compared to 2016 (and became one of the Latin American countries with highest perceptions of corruption). According to Transparency International, it was close to becoming part of the bottom 10 countries perceived to be most corrupt, which are often countries at war or in economic crisis.

GUATEMALA / Areas of progress

3. Combatting Corruption

3.2
Scope and Implementation of Legislation to Combat Corruption

Guatemala’s government has passed several important reforms to existing laws that aim to improve its capacity to investigate and prosecute corruption offenses such as the Law against Organized Crime, the Law against Money Laundering and other Assets, and the Asset Recovery Law.

However, Guatemala still needs to pass additional reforms— specifically, laws that confront pervasive nepotism and conflicts of interest in Guatemalan politics and institutions— in order to better meet international anti-corruption standards and treaties.

GUATEMALA / Areas of progress

3. Combatting Corruption

3.3
Advancements in Criminal Investigations

The creation of new agencies within the Public Ministry, including the Special Prosecutor’s Office against Impunity, the Special Methods Unit and the Criminal Analysis Unit, have helped improve the capacity of the Ministry to investigate complex, large-scale corruption cases.  Many opportunities still exist for Guatemala to improve its justice system, particularly within the High Risk Courts of the Judiciary, the courts that process many complex corruption cases. The complexity of these cases, by virtue of the magnitude of the criminal organizations and networks judged, demand a review of logistical conditions and criminal procedure regulations. In this sense, it is considered appropriate to increase and improve the selection, induction and continuous training of those who work cases of this nature; establish an adequate judicial management model for the prosecution of organized crime, improve infrastructure and implement a greater use of technology. Likewise, it is necessary that those who exercise the judiciary carry out a filter attached to Law, in order to reduce the tactics of malicious litigation and the prolongation of the processes to the detriment of effective judicial protection. The graphic below shows the number of corruption cases filed, prosecuted, and resolved by the Public Ministry between 2014-2017, according to the data received and crimes analyzed. 

GUATEMALA / Areas of progress

3. Combatting Corruption

3.4
Functioning of Oversight Bodies

Oversight bodies, such as the Comptroller General of Accounts (CGC), which is responsible for auditing and overseeing proper use of public funds, need to strengthen processes aimed at keeping Guatemala’s institutions clean and transparent. Proactively improving accountability measures would go a long way in preventing the abuse of public resources. 

Strengthening the legal frameworks that discourage graft would enable Guatemala’s justice system to root out corruption preemptively, rather than relying on prosecutors to detect and investigate crimes only after they have taken place.

GUATEMALA
Areas of progress
4.

Tackling Violence and Organized Crime

4.1

National Law in Accordance with International Standards

4.2

Investigative capacity and prosecution of criminal networks and organized crime

4.3

Effectiveness of Investigations of Criminal Networks and Organized Crime

GUATEMALA / Areas of progress

4. Tackling Violence and Organized Crime

4.1
National Law in Accordance with International Standards

Between 2014 and 2017, justice sector institutions made commendable efforts and Congress advanced legislative reforms. These marked important institutional reforms and helped to strengthen internal regulations and align them with international standards. The Public Prosecutor’s office made important advances, such as strengthening the Analysis Unit, the adoption of new divisions among prosecutors’ offices, and the use of wiretapping, among other tools, which contributed to dismantling numerous criminal structures at the national level.

GUATEMALA / Areas of progress

4. Tackling Violence and Organized Crime

4.2
Investigative capacity and prosecution of criminal networks and organized crime

The Public Prosecutor’s Office has various prosecutors’ offices and specialized units to address the investigation and criminal prosecution of violence and organized crime activities. Among these specialized prosecutors’ offices are the offices against organized crime, drug-related crimes, money or asset laundering, extortion, human trafficking, kidnapping, crimes against life, and femicide, among others. The Public Prosecutor’s Office denied information requests regarding the number of personnel assigned to these offices. Financial data shows that, of these prosecutors’ offices and special units that provided budget information, they received 8.4 percent of the total budget allocated to the Public Prosecutor’s Office during the period analyzed. Additionally, there was a trend of an annual increase in the allocated budget, with the exception of the special prosecutors’ offices on organized crime and drug-related crimes, which suffered a reduction in 2015, and the office on money laundering, whose budget also decreased in 2015 and 2017.



In order to better fulfill its functions, the Judiciary implemented specialized criminal courts, such as high risk courts and those that hear of crimes of femicide, violence against women, and crimes of sexual violence, exploitation and human trafficking. These high risk courts and tribunals have been key in fighting violence and organized crime, yet they still lack adequate space and personnel. In the case of femicide and violence against women, the femicide courts and tribunals exist in 50 percent of the country’s departments. However, women from rural regions often do not benefit from these courts’ protection and services as they either don’t have access to the specialized jurisdiction or, in some departments, these bodies are made up entirely of men.  

GUATEMALA / Areas of progress

4. Tackling Violence and Organized Crime

4.3
Effectiveness of Investigations of Criminal Networks and Organized Crime

Changes made within the Public Prosecutor’s Office to improve prosecutorial efficiency made way for important advances in strategic criminal prosecution, increasing the operational capacity of investigation processes. Thus, between 2015 and 2016, the office was able to dismantle 93 criminal structures with a total of 716 members.

The gap between the reality of the phenomenon of violence against women and convictions remains quite large. In 2017, at least 57 out of 100,000 women were subjected to femicide or other forms of violence against women. In that same year, of the men indicted by the Public Prosecutor’s Office, only 3 percent were convicted at trial.



The same gap is evident between the cases filed by special prosecutors’ offices and the number that results in convictions or acquittals. It is important to note that not all of the cases that are filed manage to be prosecuted and lead to a sentence in the same year. In other cases, due to various circumstances, cases may be filed or dismissed or resolved by other means that do not imply reaching an oral or public hearing. At other times, the complexity of the crime results in a prolonged investigation. Nevertheless, the advances of the Public Prosecutor’s Office are closely linked to strengthening the Judiciary, which also affects the prompt decisions of the cases that are admitted.

GUATEMALA
Areas of progress
5.

Strengthening of Civilian Police Forces

5.1

Functioning of Police Career Systems

GUATEMALA / Areas of progress

5. Strengthening of Civilian Police Forces

5.1
Functioning of Police Career Systems

The Law of the National Civilian Police (Decree 11-97) establishes the minimum requirements for the induction and promotion of members of the police force. However, Guatemala lacks a Police Career Law that duly and transparently regulates the selection, training and management control mechanisms of police officers.

From 2014 to 2017, the size of the police force increased from 33,075 in 2014 to 39,376 in 2017. This is equivalent to a ratio of 209.2 for every 100,000 people in 2014 and 232.6 for every 100,000 people in 2017. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) recommends a minimum of 300 per every 100,000 inhabitants. This sustained increase of police officers allowed the institution to provide better police coverage and presence, particularly in regions and areas with high rates of insecurity and crime. Nonetheless, the data show that a wide gap exists within the institution in terms of gender and ethnicity. On average, female police officers represented 13.9% of the National Civilian Police (PNC), while male officers made up 86.1% of the force. Of the average 5,005 female police officers serving annually, 98.4% held entry-level ranks. At the same time, only 26% of the 6,804 people who graduated at entry-level ranks from the PNC Academy came from indigenous communities. In the case of the Police Officers’ School, this figure amounted to 33.3%.

During the four years under study, a total of 4,967 disciplinary proceedings were initiated after complaints were filed against PNC members. Of these proceedings, approximately 90.6% took place against male police officers and 9.4% against female police officers; the majority (93.1%) were from entry-level ranks. Separately, 1,433 disciplinary proceedings were initiated through an internal process–meaning initiated by an authority of the institution upon having evidence of the commission of an act or infraction. Of these proceedings, 94.8% were filed against women police officers. This drastic discrepancy suggests that disciplinary proceedings initiated internally may be used to unduly punish or hinder the advancement of female police officers’ careers.  

GUATEMALA
Areas of progress
6.

Limiting the Role of the Armed Forces in Public Security Activities

6.1

Development and Implementation of a Concrete Plan

GUATEMALA / Areas of progress

6. Limiting the Role of the Armed Forces in Public Security Activities

6.1
Development and Implementation of a Concrete Plan

The Ministry of National Defense denied the majority of public information requests submitted by the Central America Monitor that sought to analyze the size of the military and its participation in public security. The lack of transparency in this area is worrisome as the requests were for basic information and did not include information that could risk national security in any way. This failure to provide information not only prevents a comprehensive analysis of the military and its participation in internal policing, but also represents an alarming trend of opacity when it comes to civic oversight and accountability for possible human rights violations by the military in exercising police functions.

Starting in 2000, successive administrations and the Guatemalan Congress have cited public safety as a reason for enacting laws and agreements that grant a return to the participation of the military in police tasks, in full violation of the 1996 Peace Accords. In total, they adopted 7 agreements and decrees which allowed participation of the military in combating organized crime and common crime, surveilling the perimeters of pre-trial detention centers, prisons and rehabilitation centers, among others; maintaining order and security within jails and prisons; and allowing pursuit and detention of fugitive inmates and the custody of inmates. In addition, they established combined forces between military and police and consolidated coordination mechanisms of the Ministry of National Defense in all matters of internal and external security.

From 2014 to 2017, the army was allocated an average annual budget of Q70,444,267.50 ($9.1 million) to cover military participation in public safety tasks. The allocated amount grew each year, increasing 3.2% between 2014 and 2015, 5.6% between 2015 and 2016 and 4.6% between 2016 and 2017. According to consulted sources, a strong criticism at the time was that the expenses that the Ministry of Defense made in matters of security were paid for by the Ministry of the Interior. At the end of 2016, in the face of a growing social opposition to the militarization of the internal police function and under the leadership of the then Minister of Interior, the government announced a roadmap for the gradual withdrawal of the Guatemalan armed forces in citizen security tasks. The plan sought to completely remove the military from police functions in three distinct phases before the end of 2017. Despite some advances in the plan’s execution––as was the case with decrease of the military (from 30 zones to 11) and the withdrawal of some 2,100 troops––they failed to meet their initial timeline, and a final withdrawal was anticipated for March 2018.

GUATEMALA
Areas of progress
7.

Protecting Human Rights

7.1

Investigation and Conviction of Human Rights Violations

7.2

Protection Mechanisms

7.3

Hate Speech

GUATEMALA / Areas of progress

7. Protecting Human Rights

7.1
Investigation and Conviction of Human Rights Violations

Between 2014-2017, civil society group the Human Rights Defenders Protection Unit (UDEFEGUA, by its Spanish acronym) recorded a total of 2,062 aggressions against rights defenders, including 529 cases of intimidation and 131 threats (in person, written, and via telephone). There was also a worrisome increase in the number of killings: between 2016 to 2017, killings of human rights defenders skyrocketed by 271 percent (from 14 killings in 2016 to 52 documented the following year). The killings of human rights leaders highlight significant issues in the protection of human rights in the country and in the strength of human rights investigations. Between 2014-2017, Guatemala saw some positive advances in terms of strengthening the capacity of the Public Prosecutor’s Office for Human Rights. The office was significantly expanded and its staffing levels increased; it now had seven special prosecutor’s units dedicated to various categories of human rights-related crimes. Despite these positive changes, there is a high degree of impunity for crimes against rights defenders and journalists. This is partly due to the failure to apply existing human rights legislation effectively. As the accompanying graphic shows, the vast majority of investigations opened by the special prosecutor’s office on human rights failed to result in convictions. 

GUATEMALA / Areas of progress

7. Protecting Human Rights

7.2
Protection Mechanisms

In 2016, under the leadership of the Presidential Coordination Commission of the Political Executive in Human Rights Matters (COPRODEH), Guatemala’s government took initial steps to develop a public policy for protecting human rights defenders and establish better coordinating collaboration between various state institutions in accordance with a 2014 Inter-American Court ruling. The process continued during 2017, beginning with the first of five developmental phases of the process, which included discussions of the proposal with civil society organizations and State entities, accompanied by the PDH and the OHCHR. By the end of that year, the State of Guatemala had not yet approved the aforementioned policy.

Although approval of a public policy was still pending, there were institutions dedicated to the exchange of information and to providing protection for people in situations of risk, human rights defenders among them. 

These include the Body for the Analysis of Attacks on Human Rights Defenders, a temporary unit created in 2008 to analyze patterns of attacks on human rights defenders and coordinate quick responses for protection, and a protection mechanism managed by the Ministry of Interior. The Body for Analysis meetings include the Ministry of the Interior, the PNC Criminal Investigation Directorate, the Public Ministry, two human rights organizations, an international cooperation organization, as well as the PDH and Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights as observers.

The Body has been a useful space for coordination and requests for quick responses to deal with risky situations. However, experts noted that the ability to analyze trends and attack patterns needed to be strengthened. The initiative faced serious problems between 2016 and 2017, as the Ministerial Agreement creating the Body for the Analysis of Attacks on Human Rights Defenders expired in 2016.

GUATEMALA / Areas of progress

7. Protecting Human Rights

7.3
Hate Speech

Harassment campaigns against human rights defenders, carried out through social media, work to delegitimize and discourage the defense of human rights in Guatemala.  In 2014-2017, civil society group UDEFEGUA recorded 428 cases in which rights defenders were criminalized, including 74 illegal detentions, 104 judicial detentions, 106 arbitrary detentions, and 244 cases of defamation.  The justice system must create internal mechanisms and measures that allow monitoring, identifying and deterring cases of criminalization of human rights defenders, often based on spurious and unsubstantiated accusations. This activity inflicts obvious harm to human rights defenders, to their security, dignity, freedom, integrity and, unfortunately, also to their lives.

GUATEMALA
Areas of progress
8.

Improving Transparency

8.1

Scope and Implementation of Public Information Access Laws

8.2

Budget and Spending Transparency

8.3

Disclosure of Public Officials’ Statement of Assets

GUATEMALA / Areas of progress

8. Improving Transparency

8.1
Scope and Implementation of Public Information Access Laws

Between 2014 and 2017, over 90 percent of requests for information were favorably resolved, resulting in the release of public information in compliance with the law, which strengthens transparency and accountability. However, 85 percent of requests were filed in the department of Guatemala, where the capital is located. This disparity poses a barrier to the right of Guatemalans to remain informed, and indicates that transparency laws are not being used to hold local governments accountable across the country’s interior.

Of the public security, defense, and justice institutions examined, between 2014 and 2017, the Judiciary issued the highest number of favorable responses to public information requests, with 98.8 percent of its responses resulting in the release of the requested information, followed by the Public Prosecutor's Office. Meanwhile, the Ministry of the Interior (whose authority covers the national police force) and the Ministry of Defense (which covers the armed forces) remained below 67 percent in terms of positive responses to public information requests. These percentages are not indicative of the overall quality of data.

GUATEMALA / Areas of progress

8. Improving Transparency

8.2
Budget and Spending Transparency

Although all the institutions that manage public funds are required by law to have a portal to access public information, during the period analyzed, Guatemala lacked a central transparency portal. Many of the official websites of the public security and defense institutions did not fully comply with the national transparency law requirements, including the publication of data related to budgets, salaries, fees for contractors, and bidding processes, among other areas. This was particularly the case for the websites of the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Defense. 

GUATEMALA / Areas of progress

8. Improving Transparency

8.3
Disclosure of Public Officials’ Statement of Assets

Guatemalan law requires that all public officials and state employees submit official statements of their assets upon entering and leaving their job. However, under the law, all declarations are confidential and inaccessible to the public. During the period analyzed, the Comptroller General’s Office (Contraloría General de Cuentas, CGC), the entity responsible for auditing and imposing fiscal control over public funds, demonstrated a lack of capacity to effectively review the submitted statements, let alone verify the information with other institutions. Given its limitations, the CGC should consider prioritizing those positions where there is a greater risk of engaging in practices related to illicit enrichment, influence peddling and conflict of interest. Additionally, the necessary reforms should be adopted that would make the sworn statements of public officials publicly accessible.

GLOSSARY

The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), the Myrna Mack Foundation (FMM) of Guatemala, the University Institute for Public Opinion (Iudop) of the José Simeón Cañas Central American University (UCA) of El Salvador, the University Institute on Democracy, Peace and Security (IUDPAS) of the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH) have developed a series of indicators to assess the progress in Central America in eight key areas. That progress will reflect both the commitment of Central American governments and the effectiveness of international assistance. The indicators include a combination of quantitative data and qualitative analysis in order to gain a more in-depth understanding of the changes taking place in each country. Data sources include official documents and statistics, surveys, interviews, and reviews of existing laws and regulations that will be systematically compiled.

WOLA, the Myrna Mack Foundation, Iudop, and IUDPAS developed these indicators in a months-long process that included review of international standards, consultation with experts, and consensus among all partners about the key issues to address.
Our goal is to provide an instrument that can help identify the areas of progress and opportunities for improvement shortfalls for of the policies and strategies being implemented on the ground in a form that is useful for policymakers, donors, academics, and the public. At the same time, we hope to provide analysis that can contribute to the evaluation of trends over time both within and between the countries of the Northern Triangle.

1
Strengthening the Capacity and Independence of Justice Systems

Capacity of the Justice System: Number of criminal justice officials, geographical coverage, workload, effectiveness, and public trust.

Internal Independence: Existence and implementation of a public, merit-based selection process free from external influence, a results-based evaluation system, and an effective disciplinary system.

External Independence: Size of budget allocated for the judicial sector and implementation of national and international protection measures for justice officials.

2
Cooperation with Anti-Impunity Commissions

Political Will and Level of Collaboration: Commitment of the state to collaborate and enable the work of the CICIG in Guatemala and the MACCIH in Honduras, demonstrated by the progress of emblematic cases, the approval of legislative reforms, and support for domestic counterparts working with these commissions.

3
Combating Corruption

Level of Public Trust: Degree of public trust in state institutions involved in efforts to prevent, identify, investigate, and punish corruption.

Scope and Implementation of Legislation to Combat Corruption: Classification of new crimes in criminal codes and reforms of existing anti-corruption laws to adhere to international standards.

Advancements in Criminal Investigations: Number of corruption cases filed, prosecuted, and resolved, as well as the progress made in emblematic cases.

Functioning of Oversight Bodies: Existence and capacity of external oversight bodies or agencies to combat corruption.

4
Tackling Violence and Organized Crime

Capacity Building: Existence and functioning of specialized anti-organized crime units, application of scientific and technical investigative methods, and functioning of judges or tribunals dedicated to the prosecution of organized crime

Advances in Criminal Investigations: The number of organized crime-related cases filed, prosecuted, and resolved, as well as the progress made in emblematic cases.

Crime Reduction: Convictions for homicides, extortion, and against criminal networks, as well as a reduction in serious and violent crimes.

5
Strengthening Civilian Police Forces

Functioning of Police Career Systems: Existence and effectiveness of police recruitment and promotion mechanisms, training processes, and disciplinary systems, as well as the structure of police bodies.

Allocation and Use of Budgetary Resources: Allocation and effective use of public funds and percentage designated for the wellbeing of members of the civilian police forces.

Community Relations: Public trust in the police, police-community relations, and relations with indigenous authorities.

6
Limiting the Role of the Armed Forces in Public Security Activities

Development and Implementation of a Concrete Plan: The design and implementation of a publicly accessible and verifiable plan with goals, timelines, activities, and clearly established indicators; repeal of legal norms authorizing participation of armed forces in public security, and access to information regarding payroll and assigned resources.

Conduct of Military Forces: Complaints, accusations, and sentences regarding human rights violations perpetrated by members of the armed forces and the level of public trust in the armed forces.

7
Protecting Human Rights

Investigation and Conviction of Human Rights Violations: Existence and functioning of specialized investigative units, number of complaints, prosecutions, and convictions, handling of emblematic cases, and degree of security forces’ collaboration with investigations.

Protection Mechanisms: Structure and functioning of domestic protection mechanisms and implementation of international protection measures for human rights defenders who have been victims of attacks or threats.

Hate Speech: Analysis of attacks and smear or defamation campaigns against human rights defenders.

8
Improving Transparency

Scope and Implementation of the ‘Law of Access to Public Information’: Type of information categorized as restricted or of limited access, period of classification, availability and quality of statistics related to security and justice, information requests granted and denied, and related fees.

Budget and Spending Transparency: Access to public information on budget allocations and spending on security, justice, and defense.

Disclosure of Public Officials’ Statement of Assets: Level of official compliance with disclosure norms, and the degree to which such statements are made available to the public.

METHODOLOGY

The Central America Monitor is based on the premise that accurate, objective, and complete data and information are necessary to reduce the high levels of violence and insecurity, and establish rule of law and governance in a democratic state. This will allow efforts to move beyond abstract discussions of reform to specific measures of change.

The Monitor is based on a series of more than 100 quantitative and qualitative indicators that allow a more profound level of analysis of the successes or setbacks made in eight key areas in each of the three countries. More than a comprehensive list, the indicators seek to identify a way to examine and assess the level of progress of the three countries in strengthening the rule of law and democratic institutions. The indicators seek to identify the main challenges in each of the selected areas and examine how institutions are (or are not) being strengthened over time. The Monitor uses information from different sources, including official documents and statistics, surveys, interviews, information from emblematic cases, and analysis of existing laws and regulations.

The indicators were developed over several months in a process that included an extensive review of international standards and consultation with experts. The eight areas analyzed by the Monitor include:

  • 1. Strengthening the Capacity and Independence of Justice Systems
  • 2. Cooperation with Anti-Impunity Commissions
  • 3. Combating Corruption
  • 4. Tackling Violence and Organized Crime
  • 5. Strengthening Civilian Police Forces
  • 6. Limiting the Role of the Armed Forces in Public Security Activities
  • 7. Protecting Human Rights
  • 8. Improving Transparency