Guatemala: expulsion of CICIG must be immediately reversed

Issued by Transparency International Secretariat

Transparency International condemns in the strongest possible terms Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales’s decision to expel the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, (CICIG) the UN-sponsored body charged with assisting national corruption investigations, and urges the Constitutional Court of Guatemala to block this attempt. Working with national authorities since 2007, the International Commission has had significant success in prosecuting numerous high-level corruption cases, and has received strong support for its work from Guatemalan citizens.

On Sunday, Yilen Osorio, a Colombian representative of CICIG was temporarily denied entry to the country. Following pressure from the Guatemalan public and national and international media, Osorio was later allowed entry. On Monday, President Morales unilaterally declared the agreement with the United Nations which was the basis for establishing CICIG to be terminated and gave all CICIG officials twenty-four hours to leave the country, in a move that has been condemned by UN Secretary-General António Guterres and deemed unconstitutional by commentators.

Delia Ferreira Rubio, Chair of Transparency International, said:

“The actions of the Guatemalan government are a blatant confrontation with the Constitutional Court, the Office of the Public Prosecutor as well as the United Nations. It is aimed at securing impunity and crippling the work of the CICIG, which has been vital in the fight against corruption in the country. Regrettably, these actions by the Guatemalan government jeopardizes the rule of law and are a clear step backwards for Guatemala as well as for the region as a whole. We send our support and solidarity to the Guatemalan people. These are crucial hours in the fight for justice and freedom. Corruption will not end as long as impunity exists."

Acción Ciudadana, Transparency International’s national chapter in Guatemala, presented yesterday night two legal actions to the Constitutional Court. The first indentifies the crimes committed by President Morales, of violating the Constitution and disobeying the rulings of the Court. The second demands the resignation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sandra Jovel, and further public officials who have disobeyed and opposed the resolutions of the Constitutional Court, so that legal investigations can be initiated against them. Apart from this, Acción Ciudadana has also called for active participation from citizens and civil society groups of Guatemala to ensure that CICIG can continue to fulfil its important mandate for ending impunity.

Morales’s 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 in Guatemala. Manfredo Marroquin, President of Acción Ciudadana, was the victim of political harassment by the Congress of the Republic in April 2018. In August 2018, President Morales ended CICIG’s mandate, meaning it would expire in September 2019.

The international community, including the United States as a key donor to CICIG, must support the commission in its fight against impunity for corruption in Guatemala, and work to promote the accountability and rule of law that are vital for stability in Guatemala and its region. 

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