The upcoming selection for judges to serve on the Supreme Court of Justice and Court of Appeals in Guatemala needs to be more transparent to ensure judicial independence and bolster the fight against corruption, according to Transparency International (TI), the global anti-corruption coalition, and Acción Ciudadana, its partner organisation in Guatemala.
The Commission for the Nomination of Supreme Court and Court of Appeals Judges submitted a list of prospective candidates to Congress but a lack of transparency and public oversight and incomplete records of voting have marred the selection process.
Transparency International is concerned that conflicts of interests and influence peddling, insufficient vetting and a lack of objective selection criteria have resulted in a poor list of candidates.
“Without an independent judiciary it will be impossible for Guatemala to make progress in the fight against corruption and impunity. It is alarming that Guatemala is compromising its judicial system through a flawed process that is vulnerable to special interests”, says Alejandro Salas, Transparency International’s Regional Director for the Americas.
Guatemala ranks in the bottom third of the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index, indicating a severe problem with corruption.
In the upcoming voting, Transparency International calls on Congress to:
- Publish the criteria used to select the Supreme Court Justices and appellate court judges
- Conduct due diligence to establish candidate capabilities and rule out conflict of interest
- Publish a full report of the selection process to back up its choices
In the longer term Guatemala needs to reform the nominating process to strengthen the judiciary and ensure the best candidates are chosen. It should revise the Nominating Commissions Act to include provisions that ensure the impartiality of the nominating commission and to give the commission at least six months to carry out the process of selecting justices and the process must include more comprehensive assessments of the candidates.
For greater transparency, the votes by the commission members should be made public along with all potential conflicts of interest.
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