The government of Guatemala must be held accountable for the safety of a hundred members of CICIG

Press releases 09.01.2019

Through a decree published yesterday – and announced previously at a press conference – President Jimmy Morales has overturned the agreement that mandates and regulates the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG).

While for security reasons, foreign members of CICIG are being forced to abide by this illegal measure and leave the country, the Right Livelihood Award Foundation urges the government to guarantee the safety of at least one hundred workers who will remain in Guatemala.

“We note with great concern the increasing subversion of the rule of law, and a growing disrespect for the constitutional order”, said the director of the Foundation.

Last November, CICIG commissioner Iván Velásquez, and the former Guatemalan attorney general, Thelma Aldana, received the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’ in Stockholm. The Right Livelihood Award Foundation granted them the honorary prize “for their innovative work in exposing abuse of power and prosecuting corruption, thus rebuilding people’s trust in public institutions”.

Following the Guatemalan president’s unilateral, premature and immediate termination of CICIG’s mandate, the Foundation joins the international community in expressing concern about the actions of the executive office.

“We hold the State of Guatemala responsible for the safety of CICIG staff and the security of its premises. We reaffirm our support for both CICIG and the Constitutional Court of Guatemala, and ask to preserve an independent justice system, immune to pressures from those seeking to end the fight against corruption. We pledge our support to public institutions committed to the population, civil society organisations and citizens who are working tirelessly to end impunity”, said Ole von Uexkull, executive director of the Right Livelihood Award Foundation.

While CICIG’s international members are currently, for own safety, making arrangements to leave the country, approximately one hundred local members will remain in Guatemala.

“The agreement that gave rise to CICIG can not be rescinded unilaterally, much less by means of an executive decree, when the agreement with the UN that established the anti-corruption body was voted for by the Congress of the Republic”, said Fabiana Leibl, head of the Foundation’s laureate protection programme.

“No citizen, not even the president of the republic, should stand above the country’s highest judicial body. The Constitutional Court of Guatemala has repeatedly upheld the legality of CICIG’s actions. Despite this, the government ignores and questions its rulings, hindering the normal functioning of the CICIG, and intimidating its members and the population”, added von Uexkull.

The Right Livelihood Award Foundation notes with concern the errant decisions of the government and the consequent weakening of democratic quality in Guatemala, while reiterating its support for, and solidarity with, Guatemalan Laureates working to strengthen the rule of law and access to justice.

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