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Guatemala, March 17, 2011. The United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, visited the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) today and reaffirmed his support for its work and for Commissioner Francisco Dall'Anese Ruiz.

The Secretary-General delivered a message to the Commission's staff, after a private meeting with the Commissioner, where he expressed his support for the latter's efforts to fight impunity in Guatemala.

The address of the Secretary-General:

"This Commission will work to combat impunity and ensure perpetrators are brought to justice. The United Nations has used all possible means: mediation, political facilitation, electoral assistance. It has fostered and promoted a judicial framework across the world. The United Nations has established mechanisms to bring perpetrators to justice in cases such as those concerning massacres."

"I am thankful to donor countries for generously providing financial support, without which the mission would not be possible. In order to bring deeply entrenched criminals to justice, bravery and determination are necessary. Without strong political will it would not be possible to achieve justice and, therefore, I would like to express my great respect and admiration for the bravery and courage of the staff of this Commission."

"The United Nations will continue to support you and I am here to demonstrate that support. I know that much criticism has been levelled at the Commissioner, this office and its staff, but this comes with the nature of the work because you are working here to fight for justice."

"As Secretary-General, I am not exempt from criticism either, because I am unable to satisfy all 192 Member States. I must fulfill my mandate, which is to promote peace, development, respect for human rights and political stability."

"The aim of my visit to the country is to demonstrate my full support to the Commission and to learn more about CICIG, its challenges and what we can do as United Nations and the international community to strengthen it."

"I reiterate my thanks and respect to all CICIG staff. Mr. Commissioner, I wish you continued success and good leadership, and I thank you all for being present."

Address of the Commissioner
In his address, the Commissioner thanked the Secretary-General for his visit to express support "at a time when we are overcoming a smear campaign and unjustifiable attacks against CICIG. Your presence is a clear indication that the work we are doing here in Guatemala is important for the United Nations."

He added that there had been constant attacks and smear campaigns against the Commission, which is a sign of success. If a prosecution office is free from criticism and attacks, it is a sign that it is not hitting home with its efforts.

"These crises follow those we suffered when investigating economic and political powers as part of the fight against impunity in Guatemala. However, when such a crisis occurs, the presence of a leader is crucial in showing support for the work to tackle this scourge," said the Commissioner.

He said: "Your leadership, commitment to justice, democracy, strong institutions and human rights give hope to the people of Guatemala, and therefore give meaning to our work."

"We are committed to investigating and trying members of illegal structures and organized crime groups in Guatemala, as well as to proposing legislation to streamline the Guatemalan justice system and to transferring the skills held by the professional staff working at this international prosecution office," he said.

He said that CICIG would seek to coordinate the State before the end of its mandate. Therefore, "we know we can count on your support, Mr. Secretary-General, and when we return to our countries, we will be able to feel content knowing that each of us made a contribution, under the leadership of Ban Ki-moon."

At the event, Carmen Rosa de León Escribano and Marco Antonio Canteo, representatives of Guatemalan society, presented the Secretary-General with a document in which they expressed their support for the work of CICIG.

Furthermore, the ambassadors of the following countries also attended the event: Germany, United States, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Spain, Finland, France, Italy, Mexico, Norway, Netherlands, Great Britain, Sweden, Switzerland, Uruguay and the European Union.

Listen to simultaneous interpretation (in Spanish) of the Secretary-General's address at CICIG
Listen to the Secretary-General's address at CICIG
Listen to address of Francisco Dall'Anese Ruiz, CICIG Commissioner

Watch the Secretary-General's address at CICIG

Watch the address of Francisco Dall'Anese Ruiz, CICIG Commissioner

Read address of United Nations Secretary-General on his visit to CICIG

Read address of Commissioner Francisco Dall'Anese

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        About Guatemala
  The Republic of Guatemala, a mountainous country that lies in the Central American isthmus, has an estimated population of 13 million people.
  Guatemala won its independence in 1821, following almost three centuries of Spanish colonial rule.
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