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News > Guatemala

Guatemala: Ombudsman Says Government Sabotaging Security, Peace

  • Migrants interact with a Guatemalan police officer in Esquipulas, Guatemala, Jan. 20, 2019.

    Migrants interact with a Guatemalan police officer in Esquipulas, Guatemala, Jan. 20, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 31 January 2019

Ombudsman denounced the State's unwillingness to fight impunity and corruption.

Wednesday Guatemala’s Ombudsman Jordan Rojas denounced the Guatemalan Government executing actions that counter the advances in democratic security and peace.

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In a presentation of a 2018 Report on Human Rights before Congress, Rojas mentioned that the weakening of the National Civil Police's professionalization, as well as the lack of support for the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), affect the fight against impunity and corruption.

The Ombudsman also warned about the series of murders of human rights defenders, community activists, and Indigenous leaders.

"The State must guarantee the life and security of all inhabitants... however, in the last year, more than 20 human rights defenders were murdered and most of the cases continue in impunity, due to the State's indifference regarding to the attention of the victims, investigation and criminal prosecution," Rojas said.

The Ombudsman stressed, that despite the fact that the Guatemalan authorities announced the definitive withdrawal of the Army from civil security tasks, the military presence on the streets continued, which left, in doubt, the government's real commitments to comply with such promise.

In addition, last year, there was a "high prevalence" of extortion, sexual violence, femicide and trafficking in of persons, which are crimes affecting the people's integrity, freedom, life, safety and peace.

"The Guatemalan State continues to show weaknesses to protect people from all situations considered as risks, threats and vulnerabilities to their safety, life, integrity, fundamental freedoms and social peace, in some cases dealing with structural social problems that have not been comprehensively addressed in citizen security policies," Rojas argues.

Given this situation, the Ombudsman recommends reviewing citizen security policies to define "containment strategies" with attention to structural situations that affect security. Rojas also calls for resuming the process of "consolidating democratic security."

To avoid actions against the doctrine of democratic security, which is based on a human rights approach, the authorities should be leaving aside "actions that represent attacks on Justice's operators and institutions."

On Jan. 7, President Jimmy Morales announced the anticipated unilateral termination of the CICIG accusing it of meddling in the country's internal affairs.

The UN-backed commission was created on Dec. 12, 2006, as an independent body to support the Public Prosecutor's Office, the National Civilian Police, and other Guatemalan institutions in the investigation of sensitive and difficult cases of human rights violations. It was also designed to strengthen national judicial institutions in order to confront illegal groups and organized crime.

In 2018, however, President Morales announced that he would not renew the CICIG’s mandate and ordered to transfer its functions to the Public Ministry and the Ministry of the Interior.

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