Justice Initiative Joins Calls to Defend Legacy of Guatemala's CICIG
The Open Society Justice Initiative has joined a public statement with more than 200 organizations in support of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), the U.N.-backed anti-corruption commission. Guatemala announced in January that it would not renew CICIG’s mandate, set to expire on September 3, 2019.
The statement calls on the Guatemalan Attorney General’s Office and new government officials to “safeguard the advances that have been made and keep toiling in the fight against impunity.”
CICIG was created in 2007 as an international body in the wake of the country’s brutal and long-running armed conflict. Its mandate was to address organized crime cartels and political-criminal networks, support the investigation and prosecution of corruption, and combat impunity.
On August 27, 2017, Guatemala’s government began a concerted effort to undermine and end CICIG. The move followed a congressional request by the Commission and the Attorney General’s Office to suspend certain presidential immunities so that CICIG could investigate then President Jimmy Morales for alleged campaign finance crimes. The government’s campaign marked a significant break from prior verbal commitments to fight corruption and led subsequently to its unilateral withdrawal of the agreement.
The joint statement celebrates CICIG’s legacy and contribution to fighting corruption in the Latin American region. In its 12 years, CICIG has worked with national authorities to demonstrate how a well-resourced prosecutor could efficiently resolve complex cases through investigation and prosecution of previously untouchable figures. While its work to investigate high-impact cases has drawn the most attention, CICIG also played a fundamental role in boosting the investigative capacity of the Guatemalan Public Prosecutor’s office, promoting the adoption of legal reforms and modern investigative tools and techniques.
CICIG presented its final report, “The Legacy of Justice in Guatemala” this week. The report detailed the Commission’s many successes, including the breakup of 70 criminal organizations and contributing to the achievement of 34 legal reforms.