Deportation and Disease: Central America’s COVID-19 Dilemmas
Deportation and Disease: Central America’s COVID-19 Dilemmas
Podcast / Latin America & Caribbean 2 minutes

El reto de la impunidad en Guatemala

Javier Ciurlizza, director para América Latina y el Caribe, nos habla del último informe de Crisis Group sobre la Comisión Internacional contra la Impunidad en Guatemala (CICIG). Analiza los éxitos de la comisión hasta el momento y lo que queda por hacer para lograr desmantelar a los Cuerpos Ilegales y Aparatos Clandestinos de Seguridad (CIACS). 

En este podcast, Javier Ciurlizza nos habla del último informe de Crisis Group sobre la Comisión Internacional contra la Impunidad en Guatemala (CICIG). CRISIS GROUP

You can find below a transcript of this podcast.

Hello and welcome to this podcast from the International Crisis Group. I’m Gabriela Keseberg Dávalos, Senior Communications Officer, and with me on the line from Bogotá is Javier Ciurlizza, ICG Program Director for Latin America and the Caribbean.  We will talk about Crisis Group’s latest report on Guatemala’s international commission against impunity, CICIG. Since it began operations in September 2007, CICIG has brought a degree of hope to a country deeply scarred by post-conflict violence and entrenched impunity. 

Javier, tell us a bit more about the mandate of CICIG please. 

CICIG’s formal mandate is to support and assist domestic justice institutions in the investigation and prosecution of crimes committed by illegal security forces and clandestine security organizations known in Guatemala as CIACS, to identify their structures, operations and financing and ultimately to dismantle them. At the same time, CICIG has sought to strengthen the weak judicial system in order to put an end to impunity, but this is a task made infinitely more difficult by the complex relationship between elements of state institutions, political parties, the private sector and the illegal security forces and clandestine security organizations.

What has the commission achieved so far? 

Well, CICIG has had an unprecedented impact on Guatemala’s acute levels of impunity, and we can say that it has precipitated very successful criminal investigations, both as a complementary prosecutor and by providing other kind of support. As a result of its own activities and collaboration with domestic institutions, individual and institutional capacities have been augmented, committed and progressive individuals appointed to positions and the norms and procedures for selection to high-court benches have been improved. In certain cases, we can say that the wall of impunity has been breached, CICIG demonstrating that the rule of law can be applied to all citizens equally and that no one is immune and shall not be immune from investigation and prosecution. A perception is being generated that the legal system can withstand external pressure to its operators. To this extent, CICIG has emboldened and empowered the justice system.
And what is still unfulfilled? 

It remains unclear whether CICIG’s impact has established the strategic basis for effectively dismantling the illegal security forces and clandestine security organizations over the long term in Guatemala, which is the commission’s ultimate objective. This is because state institutions in this country are still very weak and, in many cases, infiltrated by CIACS. They are as yet unable, or we can say unwilling, to conduct effective criminal investigations on their own. And, in general, citizens in Guatemala do not yet trust state institutions, as they show by often not denouncing crimes or seeking assistance from the state. A culture of fear prevails, and this is the main problem in Guatemala because there is a strong resistance to reforms by spoilers which remain very profoundly committed with organized crime.
What would you say are the most immediate tasks for the commission in the coming years?

The most important task that Guatemala faces is how to transfer the knowledge, the techniques, the information that CICIG has been accumulating in these years into a very well planned strategy for Guatemalan justice institutions. The main challenge for the next two years is how to embed the mandate of CICIG into the culture of Guatemalan institutions, how to make permanent this breach of the wall of impunity.

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