President accused of intimidation against people and institutions fighting corruption
Guatemalan President, Jimmy Morales, has revoked the mandate of the International Commission against Impunity of the United Nations in Guatemala (CICIG), the UN-sponsored body charged with assisting national corruption investigations. Working with national authorities since 2007, the International Commission has had significant success in prosecuting numerous high-level corruption cases.
The president made the announcement while surrounded by military and police leaders, with media reporting the simultaneous deployment of the military to the offices of CICIG. The move comes at a time when the Guatemalan Congress has started preliminary hearings against President Morales over campaign financing irregularities, and is another attempt to attack and weaken the fight against corruption in the country.
The decision does not have national or international support, with a recent survey showing that 70% of Guatemalans trust the work of CICIG. Indeed, CICIG has produced excellent results, dismantling networks of corruption in the country. The Attorney General of Guatemala, national counterpart of the CICIG, has said that she will be watchful the consequences for the justice system and the fight against impunity and corruption that would follow the non-renewal of the mandate of the Commission.
Delia Ferreira Rubio, Chair of Transparency International, said, "The announcement by President Morales not to renew the mandate of CICIG, represents a severe blow against transparency and integrity in Guatemala and throughout Latin America. CICIG has been a model in the fight against corruption. The fact that the President made the announcement surrounded by military officials and the deployment of military forces near the offices of CICIG are an attempt at intimidation. It is very dangerous to involve the military in political and judicial issues.
"Transparency International recognizes the excellent work and results of the CICIG, fully supports its continuation in Guatemala, and expresses its solidarity with Commissioner Iván Velázquez. This is a political decision that will only benefit the corrupt, who will be able to act with impunity while ordinary Guatemalans continue to suffer from endemic corruption."
This decision is the continuation of a series of attempts by the President and his allies to stop the fight against corruption, reduce freedom of expression and constrain civil society organisations. Manfredo Marroquin, President of Acción Ciudadana, Transparency International's chapter in Guatemala, was the victim of political harassment by the Congress of the Republic in April 2018. Transparency International is very concerned about the trend towards undermining democratic norms, the result of which is the proliferation of corruption, impunity and authoritarianism.
Transparency International urges he United Nations and the international community to show energetic support to the fight against corruption in Guatemala, and to support the continued role and independence of the CICIG.
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