Guatemala's president surprises critics by renewing UN commission on impunity

The International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala has proved effective in the struggle to fix Guatemala’s justice system, but many had feared President Perez would dismiss its work.

Jorge Dan Lopez/Reuters
Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina speaks in a news conference after a meeting with US Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs William Brownfield, in the Presidential House of Guatemala City on March 27, 2012.

• A version of this post ran on the author's site, Insightcrime.com. The views expressed are the author's own.

Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina has begun the process of renewing the mandate of a valuable United Nations-backed anti-impunity organization, easing fears about his commitment to judicial reform in the country.

President Perez made good on his promise to support the two-year renewal of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) yesterday, meeting with CICIG head Francisco Dall’Anese in the presidential palace in order to outline the renewal process (link in Spanish). According to Perez, renewing the mandate isn’t very complicated, and only consists of exchanging a few letters with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

The CICIG’s current mandate expires in September 2013, but the renewal will add two more years to this deadline. Apart from the extension, Perez told local press that the administration will develop a “road map” of the Commission’s objectives for the next several years, which will be presented to the countries funding the project.

InSight Crime Analysis

As InSight Crime has noted previously, the CICIG has proved to be extremely effective in the struggle to fix Guatemala’s broken justice system. Because of its importance to the prospect of judicial reform in the country, Perez raised eyebrows during his presidential campaign last summer after he dodged questions about renewing the Commission’s mandate. He further fueled concerns about his dedication to cleaning up the judicial branch when he distanced himself (link in Spanish) from the work of the country’s ambitious Attorney General, Claudia Paz y Paz.

However, it seems Perez has decided to keep on both the CICIG as well as Paz y Paz, which have continued their active pursuit of government corruption cases, as a series of recent high-level prosecutions illustrate.

Geoffrey Ramsey  is a writer for Insight – Organized Crime in the Americas, which provides research, analysis, and investigation of the criminal world throughout the region. Find all of his research here.

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