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At the forum "Young and Committed", Commissioner Iván Velásquez called upon the youth to join forces in fighting impunity.

PRESS RELEASE 005

CALL TO ASSESS THE HONESTY AND SUITABILITY OF TSE CANDIDATES

Guatemala, February 5, 2014. Commissioner Iván Velásquez Gómez and the United Nations in Guatemala, along with more than 20 civil society organizations, said that recognised honesty and suitability were the main factors that the Nominating Committee should take into consideration when proposing candidates for judge positions at the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE).

At the press conference, Commissioner Velásquez, Resident Coordinator Valerie Julliand, and David Gaitán of Acción Ciudadana agreed that the oversight role played by civil society in strengthening of rule of law  is both a right and the duty of Guatemalans.

Gaitán, speaking on behalf of the civil society group, said that they had decided to join forces with CICIG to "oversee these elections, support decision-makers and to prevent illegal interest groups from co-opting this type of processes, as traditionally has been the case".

Key qualities
"We believe that recognized honesty and suitability are qualities that should be considered when establishing the lists of candidates and when the Congress of the Republic appoints judges included in those lists. Therefore, it is important to closely study these two qualities, in addition to the candidates' abilities; the current situation in Guatemala demands nothing less," said the Commissioner.

As to suitability, he mentioned that an indispensable requirement should be that future judges were "sufficiently independent and courageous in times of crisis and capable of dealing with challenges in a responsible manner".

As to recognized honesty, the Commissioner highlighted the following priority regarding candidates for such posts: "[They] should have a proven track record, professional experience, experience in the judiciary or another institution of the State or any other sector". That is, the candidate should have been exposed to public scrutiny on a social, professional or trade union level and, therefore, have recognized honesty.

The Commissioner said that all civil society groups had been invited to contribute to the joint objective of creating a better country, more robust justice and political systems as well as stronger institutions.

"This process to choose officials to make up the Supreme Electoral Tribunal is imperative, because organized crime will seek to control the political institutions. In addition, the TSE should prevent the illegal financing of political campaigns and oversee the functioning of parties," he said.

Presentation of report
The Commissioner said that he had heeded the request of the Nominating Committee to analyze the applicants for TSE judgeships. Therefore, an objective study was conducted, in conjunction with participating organizations, without making any subjective evaluations that could have ruled out candidates.

Therefore, criminal complaints were reviewed in accordance with the IT Control System of Case Management of the Public Prosecutor's Office (MP); administrative complaints; ongoing and resolved complaints of the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman; fines yet to be paid to the Constitutional Court; outstanding fines and fines paid to the Comptroller General's Office; and disqualification from exercising as a notary public.

"We said to the Nominating Committee that we would not make value judgements or express opinions regarding the information we presented; we believe they should analyse the information and determine its scope," he said.

He said that the report details complaints, their current status, whether investigations are open or completed, because all that information could be useful to members of the committee.

Reaffirmed support
The Resident Coordinator, Valerie Julliand, said that the Nominating Committee for TSE judges had an important job to do in the coming days involving the selection of suitable persons who meet all requirements and would, therefore, ensure justice is appropriately delivered in the country.

"The participation of civil society is key in these proceedings, because it must conduct social audit. Therefore, we urge civil society to continue working positively," she said.

She reaffirmed the support of the United Nations for the procedure and the actions taken to ensure the work of this and future nominating committees is transparent, because "democracy is strengthened by committed, ethical men and women".

The Commissioner, the Resident Coordinator and civil society organizations called upon the Nominating Committee to choose suitable candidates and also urged Congress to act responsibly in appointing candidates for TSE judge positions  and thereby strengthen the country's institutions.

CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATION THAT PARTICIPATED:

  • Acción Ciudadana
  • Centro de Estudios de Guatemala
  • Comisión Internacional de Juristas
  • Asociación El Refugio de la Niñez
  • Grupo de Apoyo Mutuo
  • Asociación de Abogados y Notarios Mayas
  • Red de la No Violencia contra las Mujeres
  • Grupo Guatemalteco de Mujeres
  • Instituto de Estudios Comparados en Ciencias Penales de Guatemala
  • Oficina de Derechos Humanos del Arzobispado de Guatemala
  • Fundación Sobrevivientes
  • Instituto Centro Americano para la Democracia Social
  • Asociación La Alianza
  • Grupo Multidisciplinario para la Defensa de los Derechos Sexuales y Reproductivos
  • Instituto Centroamericano de Estudios Políticos – INCEP
  • Consejo de Instituciones de Desarrollo – COINDE
  • Incidencia Democrática
  • Instituto de Enseñanza para el Desarrollo Sostenible –  IEPADES
  • Más mujeres, Mejor Política
  • Grupo 2-12
  • Convergencia Nacional para la Reforma Política
  • Unión Nacional de Mujeres Guatemaltecas
  • Mujeres Transformando el Mundo
  • Asociación para el Mejoramiento Habitacional– Mejorha
  • Asociación Justicia y Reconciliación

David Gaitán de Acción Ciudadana
Valerie Julliand, United Nations Resident Coordinato
Commissioner Iván Velásquez Gómez

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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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