The governments of three Central American countries – El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras – should be "transparent and just" while selecting their upcoming attorney generals, the United Nations has said.
A special member of the United Nations, Diego Garcia-Sayan, told an Independent Judges and Lawyers meeting that the three nations, due to appoint their next attorney generals by January 2019, should do so transparently.
These attorney generals "will play an important role in breaking the spiral of violence in these countries," said Garcia-Sayan.
First up is Guatemala, where President Jimmy Morales will assign an attorney general in May. Honduras preselected its candidates last month, but the new appointee will not be elected by the government until the end of this year. El Salvador, meanwhile, will choose a new attorney general in January 2019.
"Media outlets and independent observers should have a supervisory role (in the selection process) and without fear of retaliation," said Garcia-Sayan.
He also said "women and Indigenous people" should be able to participate as general attorney candidates, and the selection process must "follow strict, clear and objective criteria in order to evaluate the integrity."
Once selected, the attorney generals should strengthen the rule of law and confront the high indices of organized crime, corruption and impunity that limit security and development, Garcia-Sayan said.
Morales has been trying to weaken Guatemala's anti-corruption institutions, particularly the Organization of American States-mandated, International Commission Against Impunity for Corruption in Guatemala (CICIG).
Last August he threatened to throw out the commission's Colombian director, Ivan Velazquez, when it got closer to investigating Morales for receiving an unaccounted for US$1 million in party funds from his National Convergence Front (FCN). The funds helped him win the 2015 presidential elections, among other graft scandals. Morales later kicked 11 Guatemalan investigators off the commission.
Honduras, where homicide rates in 2012 were the highest in the world, is still reeling over the controversial Nov. 26 re-election of President Juan Orlando Hernandez. U.N. observers said national polling was racked with so many "irregularities" that a clear winner could not be determined.
Honduran protesters, who have been calling for fresh elections since the end of November, have been gunned down and thousands more have been arrested by the government.
A recent U.N. study concluded the government is directly responsible for the deaths of 16 Hondurans between the election and when Hernandez was sworn in on January 27. Human rights organizations say the true death toll is at least 30.