In 2015, Guatemala’s Human Rights Ombudsman helped to expose a corruption scheme in the Guatemalan health service that left at least five people dead of kidney failure. Investigations by Guatemalan prosecutors and the UN-led CICIG subsequently revealed that health officials had changed their supplier of kidney dialysis treatment in return for millions of dollars in kickbacks. The new supplier provided poor treatment, and health officials lined their pockets while patients died. The investigation was a graphic reminder that corruption, far from being a victimless crime, often severely infringes on human rights. In the words of former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, “corruption kills.”
The Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras received failing scores on Transparency International’s 2017 Corruption Perceptions Index. In different ways, they also face significant human rights challenges, from police violence to violations of indigenous rights to lack of access to health care. To what extent are these human rights challenges rooted in corruption? Can the fight against impunity reap dividends against both corruption and human rights abuses? Are national institutions making progress in these areas, and what is the role of international bodies such as CICIG in Guatemala and MACCIH in Honduras?
- Michael Camilleri, Director, Peter D. Bell Rule of Law Program, Inter-American Dialogue
- Jordán Rodas Andrade, Human Rights Ombudsman (Procurador de Derechos Humanos), Guatemala
- Sarah Chayes, Senior Associate, Democracy and Rule of Law Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
- Héctor Silva Ávalos, Project Manager, Insight Crime and Senior Research Fellow, Center for Latin American and Latino Studies at American University
- Adriana Beltrán, Director for Citizen Security, WOLA
- Ursula Indacochea, Senior Program Officer, DPLF