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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 011

GUATEMALAN SOCIETY SUPPORTS WORK OF CICIG

Guatemala, March 2, 2011. More than 300 members of Guatemalan civil society organizations expressed their support for the work of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) to combat impunity in the country.

In a press conference, the representatives of the different organizations expressed their support for the Commission, describing it "as an important instrument in strengthening justice institutions and in the fight against impunity in Guatemala".

"This show of support commits us to continuing our work as an objective, impartial and independent body that supports the justice system. CICIG shall not be subordinated, and it will show the strength that justice and independence command, as should any organization responsible for investigating and presenting criminal charges".

Francisco Dall´Anese Ruiz
CICIG Commissioner

"We strongly support CICIG and Commissioner Dall'Anese. On this occasion we call upon different sectors of the country to accompany us in a constructive and responsible fashion in order to fulfill the Commission's mandate, because Guatemala needs the international community's support in strengthening our institutions and in dismantling the structures and impunity mechanisms that prevail in the country," said Carmen Rosa de León Escribano on behalf of the group.

Therefore, the organizations requested that the Commissioner communicate to the United Nations Secretary-General their thanks and the support of Guatemalan society for the fight against impunity.

"We reaffirm our support for the fight against impunity and the work being undertaken by CICIG in the country; we call upon Guatemalans to fully support the Commission in its efforts to dismantle parallel security forces," said Rigoberta Menchú, 1992 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.

Marco Antonio Canteo, a member of a civil society organization, expressed the importance of reiterating support for the work of the Commission and the Commissioner following the decision taken by the United Nations and the Government of Guatemala to extend its mandate.

"It is difficult for Guatemalan justice institutions to dismantle parallel security structures; therefore, we trust it will be possible to do so through the support of CICIG. Furthermore, we hope that their skills are transferred to these institutions," said Eleonora Muralles.

Mario Minera described the presence of CICIG in Guatemala to be fundamental, because it worked to dismantle clandestine security forces, which have created impunity in the country and have Guatemalans on their knees.

Ana María de Klein said the support of CICIG was key in eradicating impunity in the country and, therefore, called upon the sectors of society that sought to tarnish the institution's reputation through smear campaigns to reflect on their actions.

Support of the international community
Michael Frühling, Ambassador of Sweden, said: "The work of CICIG is important to Guatemala because of the need for professional support in order to combat impunity and dismantle illegal security groups and networks, which are causing damage to the country."

Stephen McFarland, United States Ambassador said that "the presence of CICIG is important, because Guatemala is facing security and justice problems. Therefore, we believe that the Commission has done a great job fighting impunity in conjunction with the Public Prosecutor's Office and the police, with some support from judges and civil society."

The Ambassador of Germany, Thomas Schäfer, said that "CICIG has conducted good investigative work and is assisting in the fight against impunity as well as in strengthening the justice sector. We would like to reaffirm our political and financial support for CICIG, based on the important role it has in the country."

The Ambassador of Spain, Carmen Díez Orejas, reaffirmed the support of her Government for the Commission's work: "CICIG has proven to be a useful tool in the fight against impunity and we believe its work plays a vital part in strengthening Guatemalan justice institutions."

Appreciation
The Commissioner expressed his appreciation for the support shown by Guatemalan society and the international community regarding the continued work of the Commission in the fight against impunity.

"This show of support commits us to continuing our work as an objective, impartial and independent body supporting the justice system. CICIG shall not be subordinated, and it will demonstrate the resilience that justice and independence command, as should any organization responsible for investigating and presenting criminal charges," said the Commissioner.

The Commissioner said that the solidarity shown by Guatemalan organizations was testament to "the thirst of independent bodies regarding criminal prosecution. It will never be possible to satisfy everybody with work to improve the justice system, but the aim is to base the system on impartial and objective institutions."

After the Commissioner expressed his appreciation, representatives of civil society organizations presented the communiqué to be sent to the United Nations Secretary‑General.

The event was attended by the Commissioner of CICIG, Francisco Dall'Anese, ambassadors to Guatemala, and other individuals, all of whom expressed their support for the work of the Commission to dismantle parallel groups.

SUPPORT
The following were among the Guatemalan organizations, the ambassadors and international community representatives that participated in the event:
  • Instituto de Estudios Comparados en Ciencias Penales de Guatemala
  • Familiares y Amigos contra la Delincuencia y el Secuestro (FADS)
  • Madres Angustiadas
  • Instituto de Enseñanza para el Desarrollo Sostenible (IEPADES)
  • Centro de Acción Legal para los Derechos Humanos
  • Oficina de Derechos Humanos del Arzobispado de Guatemala
  • Seguridad en Democracia (SEDEM)
  • Fundación Sobrevivientes
  • Centro de Estudios de Guatemala
  • Unidad de Protección a Defensoras y Defensores de Derechos Humanos
  • Fundación Rigoberta Menchú
  • Centro de Acción Legal Ambiental y Social de Guatemala (CALAS)
  • Ambassador of Sweden
  • Ambassador of United States
  • Ambassador of Germany
  • Ambassador of Spain
  • Ambassador of Switzerland
  • Representative of the Embassy of Norway
  • United Nations agencies

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  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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