An unresolved legacy of the internal armed conflict, the clandestine groups or illegal armed groups are illicit structures that use violence to protect their political interests and illegal economic activities. They are believed to be responsible for the wave of threats and attacks against civil society actors, judicial personnel, political leaders, or anyone who stands in their way. They are allegedly linked to former and active members of the security apparatus, state officials, and organized criminal networks. Even more troubling has been their ability to infiltrate the state institutions, thereby undermining the rule of law.
Since 2002, WOLA has been working closely with counterparts in the region to push for the implementation of effective mechanisms to investigate and dismantle these clandestine security apparatuses. In December 2006, the Guatemalan Government and the United Nations signed an agreement to establish the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). The agreement must now be ratified by the Guatemalan Congress.