WORCESTER, MA – Today, Congressman James P. McGovern, Co-Chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in the U.S. House of Representatives and a leading advocate of human rights around the world, strongly condemned the decision by Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales not to renew the mandate of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, CICIG, when it expires next year.
“Today Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales surrounded himself with military and police officials to announce that he will not renew CICIG’s mandate next year. He has made a bad and short-sighted decision that will inevitably have negative consequences not only for U.S-Guatemalan relations, but especially for his own people,” said Congressman McGovern.
Established in 2007, the CICIG is an independent agency created by agreement between the Guatemalan state and the United Nations to investigate and prosecute corrupt criminal networks entrenched in the state. The Commission works through the Guatemalan justice system, hand-in-hand with local prosecutors. The CICIG is funded by voluntary contributions from the international community and, as one of the most successful rule of law initiatives in Guatemala, has enjoyed bipartisan U.S. support since its inception.
“Within hours of the president’s announcement – and in spite of the conspicuous presence of military vehicles outside of CICIG’s offices and the US Embassy, and the sudden appearance of police in the offices and homes of human rights defenders – Guatemala’s streets were filling with protestors,” said Rep. McGovern. “Guatemalans are sick and tired of the corruption and impunity that lie at the heart of decades of human rights abuses. The Guatemalan people will not accept this step backwards, and the international community must not accept it. I strongly urge President Morales to reconsider immediately.”
Morales’ decision comes two weeks after CICIG and Guatemala’s Public Ministry requested the lifting of the president’s immunity as part of an investigation into illicit campaign financing.