The UN also warned about the growing persecution of anti-corruption prosecutors in Guatemala
The Agency's High Commissioner described the situation as “worrying” and called on the authorities to “strengthen and guarantee the independence of the justice system”
Volker Turk warned about the persecution of anti-corruption prosecutors in Guatemala (REUTERS)
TheUN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk, warned this Wednesday about intimidation, retaliation and harassment from the Guatemalan Prosecutor's Office about the former officials who fought “corruption in the country”.
“It is dramatic, given Guatemala's history, that those Those who fight for accountability for serious violations of Human Rights are now persecuted,” Turk denounced in a statement, adding that “equally worrying are the attacks against those who try to combat one of the worst viruses that afflict any society: corruption. ”.
One of the most important cases was that of the construction company Odebrecht, which implicated the current Colombian Defense Minister, Iván Velazquez, for being in charge of the Commission International Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). This Tuesday, the Guatemalan Public Ministry announced that it will take legal action against him for alleged irregularities in this investigation and abuse of power by signing several cooperation agreements with the directors of the Brazilian construction company.
Guatemala announced that it will take legal action against Iván Velázquez
The recent announcement has led to a diplomatic conflict between the two countries and provoked a quick reaction from both the Colombian president Gustavo Petro and the United States, who left in support of the Minister.
“Such actions weaken the rule of law and confidence in the justice system of Guatemala,” the head of the justice system wrote on Twitter. US Diplomacy for Latin America, Brian Nichols.
The message was added to the request for consultations that Petro requested about its ambassador Victoria Gonzalez -to which Guatemala responded “in reciprocity” by doing the same with its representative in Bogotá–. Likewise, the Colombian president defended his Minister, who “proved to fight against corruption”, so “we will not allow corruption to persecute him” .
The recent announcement by the Guatemalan Public Ministry led to a diplomatic conflict with Colombia, US support for the Petro government was added
After that episode, in his statement this Thursday, although Turk did not directly mention Velázquez, he did echo that on January 16 the Prosecutor's Office announced arrest warrants against three people, one of them being a member of the Cicig , an organization backed by the UN.
“These judicial processes and the lack of procedural guarantees attack the rule of law throughout the country”, he added the High Commissioner.
In recent years, this type of investigation into justice officials and other people involved in the fight against impunity or in anti-corruption proceedings have increased significantly. Some cases have even resulted in arrests and even convictions for abuse of power, obstruction of justice and conspiracy.
Other cases have led subjects to leave the country out of fear for their safety. In this sense, the UN detailed in a report that between 2021 and 2022 an increase of more than 70% was documented in the number of Justice officials who were the target of this intimidation or who face criminal charges for their work.< /p>
That is why Turk concluded his message with a direct request to the high command in Guatemala. “I call on the authorities to take appropriate measures to strengthen and guarantee the independence of the justice system and provide the necessary protection to justice officials,” he said. p>
(With information from EFE, AFP and Europa Press)