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

Young and committed

Guatemala, 30 April 2014. Is impunity a left-right issue? Is justice influenced by political bias? Is the truth shaped by our own opinions or the pursuit of justice?

Commissioner Iván Velásquez Gómez raised these questions to law students at the Universidad Rafael Landívar during the forum "Young and committed", which was organized by the aforementioned university and the organizations Levantemos la Voz, Brújula, and Guatemala Visible. The other speakers at the forum were constitutional lawyer Alejandro Balsells and ASIES analyst Lorena Escobar.

The Commissioner stressed: "I call on you to question, challenge, analyse and join forces, because by sharing our convictions, hopes and desires, we can truly transform this country."

He added that the youth should always have an interest in whether corruption is taking over the country or how organized crime is infiltrating institutions, and thus take on a commitment to fight for a democratic State with rule of law, for justice and the truth, and to tackle impunity.

The Commissioner asked the youth at the event to reflect on the kind of a country they wanted and on their aspirations and convictions regarding Guatemalan justice. The fight against impunity should "bring us together rather than push us apart, and I call upon you to do just that, with the aim of ensuring the head of the Public Prosecutor's Office is a person that is honest, committed to tackling impunity and interested in justice and seeking the truth".

Therefore, he urged the young participants to unite, regardless of their ideologies, and to reflect on the kind of Public Prosecutor's Office, Supreme Court of Justice and Court of Appeals needed in Guatemala.

Better lawyers
Alejandro Balsells called upon the youth to participate as students in the election procedures of public officials to thereby achieve changes in the justice system, before becoming practising lawyers.

"The question is: are you studying law to become frustrated when unable to deliver justice? Or are you studying law to deliver justice? You are shaping your future," he said.

He said that it is now easier for the young and civil society to participate in meetings held by nominating committees, because the sessions were previously conducted in secret.

"We must debate, participate and raise questions in order to achieve real justice in the country. The biggest problem faced by Guatemalans is a lack of interest, and we must take an interest in these procedures, if not, what will you do as lawyers?" he said.

Lorena Escobar explained how nominating committees were created as a filter to select suitable candidates. "The work of members of the committees bears great responsibility; they are indirectly responsible for the quality of justice."

She said that the Nominating Committees Act should make the work of the committee members more effective and that the justice system should be the same for all, because it is part of the "foundations that lead to harmonious, peaceful relations and, therefore, we must participate in the procedure".

Commissioner Iván Velásquez Gómez
Lorena Escobar
Alejandro Balsells
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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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