STATEMENT 092 | Photo: CICIG.
The International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) presented today its 11th Annual Work Report. CICIG was established in 2007 at the request of the Government of Guatemala, based on the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights.
The Commissioner Iván Velásquez Gómez highlighted in his message: “We appreciate your presence in this event as an endorsement to the Commission’s work in strengthening the Attorney General’s Office (MinisterioPúblico, MP), but also your solidarity in these critical times.”
“These are difficult times, but there is a promising future on the horizon. I am sure that the Guatemalan people will know how to overcome adversity and continue their struggle to install a truly democratic Rule of Law”.
“It is necessary to make new efforts for a constitutional reform of justice that opens spaces for judicial independence and the structure of judicial bodies with the most suitable, capable and honest staff.”
“As we move forward, the struggle against corruption and the structures that have captured andtake advantageof the State deepens.”
Commissioner Velásquez reiterated his commitment to continue supporting Guatemalan people in the fight against corruption and impunity.
After his message, the attendees gave a standing ovation to the Commissioner Velásquez.
Promoting and Fostering a Law-Abiding Culture
In her speech, Attorney General Consuelo Porras highlighted: “This report reflects the approach of different work areas that contribute to the improvement of the political system and therefore favor the democratic consolidation in the country.”
She added: “However if we want these achievements to last, it is essential to promote and foster a law-abiding culture to change cultural patterns in society. It is a process that must be accompanied by the appropriate amendments tothe national legislation, according to the needs and requirements of the national reality and, of course, by acting efficiently and independently from the justice system”.
The Attorney General thanked the collaboration that her office receives from CICIG. “Today I would like to thank the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala and each of its members and collaborators for their work and dedication throughout these years, which is palpable and clear in the report presented today,” she said.
The Attorney General called on all sectors of society to face together the challenges as a countrywith determination and hard work.
Guatemalan government sought the support of the United Nations and the international community to fight Illegal Clandestine Security Apparatuses (CuerposIlegales y AparatosClandestinos de Seguridad, CIACS). These structures coopt the State by weakening its institutions and violating the human rights of Guatemalans whileseekingillegal economic benefits and influence.
In its 11 years of work, CICIG,together with the Attorney General’s Office, has achieved remarkable results:
- More than 60 structures identified.
- More than 100 cases presented.
- Currently, more than 680 people prosecuted; 60% were given alternative measures.
- More than 310 people convicted.
- 34 legal reforms filed, including Organized Crime Law, Reforms to the Criminal Code on Anti-corruption, and the creation of High-Risk Courts.
The innovative aspect of the CICIG model is that it works together with national institutions to carry out its commission. International experts work hand in hand with national prosecutors, transferring skills and best practices on a daily basis. Thus, the strengthening of capacities has been permanent since the very establishment of the Commission, and it is the core of its work.
The Eleventh Work Report of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala records the main achievements in the support to national institutions between September 2017 and September 2018.
It is structured in two chapters, which correspond to the main aspects of its commission: support to the Attorney General’s Office in the identification, investigation, and dismantling of CIACS, and actions for strengthening the Rule of Law aimed at preventing the recurrence of CIACS.
I – TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE AND ACCOMPANIMENT TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE IN RESEARCH AND LITIGATION.
CICIG’sinvestigations and its participation in processesto support the MP follow specific thematic lines defined by its commission and which are part of a strategic litigation plan. It consists of the judicialization of typical cases to advance in the detection and implementation of solutions, both for the fight against specific phenomena and the protection of the people directly affected.
Between September 2017 and September 2018, 16 cases have been prosecuted in the following thematic areas:
- In the municipalities: The cases known as Pandora’s Box – related to the municipality of Guatemala; Corruption in the municipalities of Huehuetenango and Totonicapán, and Corruption in Quetzaltenango.
- Tax Administration: The case known as Influence Peddling.
- In the construction sector: The Odebrecht case and the second phase of the case known as Construction and Corruption.
- Transport sector: The cases known as Transurbano and Security and Transport.
- Corruption in the health system: the case known as IGSS Ambulances (phase 2).
- Other instances of administrative corruption: Military industry and Cadastral Information Registry.
Corruption in the Administration of Justice
- The case known as Parallel Commissions showed the operation of a parallel structure to the Court Magistrate nominating commissions. These parallel commissions are composed of lawyers, magistrates, and members of Congress that aim to influence the judiciary by appointing the highest authorities in violation of fundamental principles of democracy and the separation of powers.
- The case Manipulation of Justice showed the manipulation of witnesses and evidence to involve innocent people in criminal acts.
Corruption in Congress
An investigation against Mario Israel Rivera Cabrera for the crimes of illegal assets or money laundering, active bribery and falsehood, and forgery of public documents.
Illegal Electoral Financing
In 2018, two new phases of the Illegal Electoral Financing of FCN-Nación case were announced. As the Commission has insisted since the presentation of its report called “The Financing of Politics in Guatemala,” illicit electoral financing profoundly damages democracy and violates the citizens’ right to decide freely and independently.
These investigations stress the modus operandi of groups that make illegal contributions and disguise the origin and ownership of resources, not onlyhindering state control and oversight but, mainly affecting the interaction of public and private interests, enhancing the risk of influence-peddling and dealing with illegal money.
Also, between September 2017 and September 2018:
- Eleven impeachment requests were files (in the cases mentioned above)
- More than 100 sentences were obtained
- Litigation has also increased in the last year: in 2018, 65% more hearings were held in comparison to the previous year.
Repair is a relevant issue that has been considered throughout the year. CICIG is respectful of truth, justice, and reparation and it makes an effort so that, along with the recognition and punishment of crimes, it will provide compensation including restitution, rehabilitation, satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition.
In this sense, during the reporting year, repairs and remedies in only four cases (Odebrecht, Construction and Corruption, Illegal Electoral Financing and Lake Amatitlán) amounted to more than 70 million quetzals and more than 17 million dollars. As a result of these investigations, proceeds of corruption have been recovered and used for public purposes. For instance, a residence that belonged to Alejandro Sinibaldi became the district prosecutor’s office in Sacatepéquez.
II – STRENGTHENING THE RULE OF LAW TO PREVENT THE RECURRENCE OF CIACS
The cases that CICIG investigated have highlighted the systemic and structural failures that allowed the commission of crimes and the state capture by CIACS. Therefore, the investigations allow to identify and analyze the legal, institutional, budgetary and public policy weaknesses that demand preventive actions and also guarantees of non-repetition.
Thus, in compliance with its commission and based on the information provided by the investigation of cases and in coordination with relevant institutions, CICIG supports: the formulation and implementation of public policies appropriate to the national reality; the identification and approval of the legal and institutional reforms necessary for the prevention and eradication of CIACS, and strengthening of institutional capacities that are identified as critical to moving towards the elimination of CIACS.
Below is the description of the programs, projects, and activities that CICIG supports in its work to strengthen the Rule of Law.
LEGAL REFORMS: LEGISLATION AGAINST IMPUNITY
During the reference period, CICIG worked together with civil society and justice institutions to draft technical proposals for legal reforms aimed at institutional strengthening and greater effectiveness and efficiency of the justice system. For example, draft reforms to the Code of Criminal Procedure were prepared concerning acceptance of charges and pre-trial detention. The legislative agenda has also been monitored through the Justice Network.
Attacking the illegal electoral financing means directly attacking the source of corruption and cooptation of the Guatemalan state. Therefore, in 2013, CICIG identified the Illegal Electoral Financing as one of its strategic priorities, a topic that has since been addressed comprehensively through the investigation of criminal cases, a thematic report, proposals for legal reforms and institutional strengthening activities.
Since 2016, CICIG, together with Guatemalan organizations and partners, has supported the TSE in the definition of electoral financing control models, instruments, protocols, and, in particular, the implementation of the new Specialized Unit for the Control and Oversight of Political Organizations.
In August 2018, to formalize the support, a Letter of Inter-institutional Understanding was signed between the TSE and CICIG that establishes the cooperation parameters.
Cooperation and technical assistance are limited to two specific aspects:
- Strengthen and transfer skills and knowledge to the TSE. At this point, progress has been made with the design and implementation of a training program for TSE staff by CICIG, with the support of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) in Guatemala. This program began in August with the participation of authorities of TSE, KAS and the Commissioner of CICIG. The inaugural lecture was given by the Head of the Political Parties Financing Department of the Supreme Electoral Court of Costa Rica.
- Assist the TSE in the implementation and follow-up of the Inter-institutional Coordination Mechanism for the exchange of information on the financing of political organizations established among TSE, SAT, SIB, SIT, and CGC. To date, it has technically supported the definition and approval of information exchange protocols.
Promotion of a Law-Abiding Culture
CICIG, together with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of the Interior and USAC’s School of Legal Sciences, continues its efforts to strengthen the Rule of Law and promote a law-abiding culture. This year, the project’s activities focused on the redesign of educational material from a multicultural and gender perspective, which will be used to train the trainers, who will later replicate these aspects in different areas causing a multiplier effect.
Integrated Justice System
CICIG has advised and accompanied to the State institutions in the development of a computer platform called Integrated System of Justice (Sistema Integrado de Justicia, SIJ), which provides reliable and detailed information on the capabilities and functioning of the justice system in general. SIJ works as a panel regarding planning and harmonic allocation of resources between the Attorney General’s Office and the Judiciary, the National Institute of Forensic Sciences (Instituto Nacional de CienciasForenses, INACIF) and the Institute for Public Defense (Instituto de la DefensaPública Penal). It responds to the need to improve coordination mechanisms among these institutions to reduce impunity indices.
During this year, SIJ has provided expert advice to the MP and INACIF. A visit to the department of Alta Verapaz was planned to present data from that region and seek an exchange with the actors operating there.
Judicial Observatory of the Criminal Justice System in Guatemala
TheJudiciary, Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala (USAC), Universidad Rafael Landívar (URL), GIZ and CICIG sponsored this initiative to identify, through the study of completed processes, the significant needs or problems that exist in the criminal justice system,to propose solutions and promote the effectiveness of the system. It seeks to provide decision makers with a public policy tool capable of generating objective, rigorous and reliable information on the flow of cases, contributing to improving the system as a whole.
Strengthening Justice from the Perspective of Equality between Men and Women
CICIG considers that it is essential to conceive and address the fight against impunity in a comprehensive, intersectoral, and gender-sensitive manner. It is important that the differentiated impact that impunity and corruption have on the human rights of vulnerable groups, especially women, is analyzed and made visible when talking about the fight against impunity. With this objective in mind, in 2018, CICIG presented and started the implementation of its new 2018-2019 Plan for the Promotion of Gender Equality, which aims to mainstream the gender perspective in all the Commission’s work areas and its internal management system.
Communication against Impunity
The fight against corruption and impunity requires transparency and an active and informed population that exercises social auditing and promotes aLaw-Abiding Culture. The media, and especially journalists, play a fundamental role in this task. To join this effort, in 2018, CICIG approved and published the document “CICIG Communication Policies and Practices” to formalize its communications. CICIG updated its website to have a multilingual approach and has reinforced the dissemination of its messages through social mediasuch as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Finally, as part of the efforts to promote mechanisms to combat corruption and impunity among the population, CICIG developed together with the office of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Guatemala the “Investigative Journalism Manual.”
CICIG reiterates its commitment to contribute to the establishment of the Rule of Law and a Law-Abiding Culture in Guatemala and, therefore, a more prosperous future for all its inhabitants.
PRESENTATION (SPANISH VIDEO)
SPEECH DEL COMISIONADO IVÁN VELÁSQUEZ:
DOCUMENT (Spanish version):