(Photo taken during recent manifestations in the capital. Sign reads: No danger, killer state. Gendri Reyes: leave your position now. Alejandro Giammattei: Stop lying. Consuelo Porras: stop surveilling!)
By: María Reyes
The independence and impartiality of Guatemala’s justice system have been in decline since the UN-backed International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) was slowly dismantled and, in 2019, expelled from the country. One of the remaining strongholds in the fight against corruption and impunity in Guatemala was the Special Prosecutor’s Office against Impunity (FECI) which was dismantled July 23, 2021 when Attorney General María Consuelo Porras Argueta removed Prosecutor Francisco Sandoval The Public Prosecutor’s Office. Former prosecutor Sandoval was investigating serious corruption cases involving high-ranking state officials, which may have been the reason for his dismissal.
October 13th marks two years without electing new magistrates for the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) and appellate chambers, in the face of the Constitutional Court’s (CC) May 6, 2020 decision. Congress’ Board of Directors and the pro-government deputies have systematically refused to comply with the CC ruling, which has generated great wear and tear, legal insecurity, delays in judicial processes and problems of legitimacy in the appointment of other justice sector officials. Unfortunately, the CSJ election process, which began in 2019, was marred by irregularities and a new attempt by corrupt and illicit groups to manipulate the results. This scheme has been uncovered by the “2020 parallel commissions” case, which had been investigated by the FECI.
In July, an alarm was raised again when the US included 20 Guatemalans in the Engel list. Among the Guatemalans included are deputies, businessmen, politicians, former presidents and several officials of the justice system, among them former judge, Mynor Mauricio Moto Morataya; former judge of the Supreme Court of Justice, Blanca Aída Stalling Dávila; Elder de Jesús Súchite Vargas, and magistrate of the Constitutional Court, Néster Mauricio Vásquez Pimentel, as if this were not enough, in September the Attorney General and the Private Secretary were added to the Engel list as well. This is evidence of deep American concern about large-scale corruption in Guatemala.
After several years of historic advances in the fight against corruption, impunity, and the search for truth, Guatemala’s justice system is under the control of groups interested in maintaining corruption and impunity. As part of their maneuver, they have maintained malicious criminal proceedings against magistrates of the CC, among them Magistrate José Francisco Mata Vela, Judge Erika Aifán, and prosecutors. In addition to the constant threats of dismissal of the Human Rights Ombudsman Jordán Rodas and activists in what appears to be a retaliation for their commitment to the fight for truth, against corruption and impunity.