WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman James P. McGovern, co-chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in the U.S. House of Representatives, Chairman of the House Rules Committee, and a leading advocate of human rights around the world, strongly condemned the Guatemalan government’s attempt to unilaterally end the 2006 accord with the United Nations that established the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, known as CICIG.
“Withdrawing from CICIG would be a grievous error on the part of the Guatemalan government,” said Rep. McGovern. “Corrosive corruption and pervasive impunity have cheated the Guatemalan people of their prosperity and their future for decades. Since its creation CICIG has worked hand-in-hand with brave Guatemalan prosecutors and judges to fight back. This newest attack is occurring because CICIG has been successful and the country’s corrupt leaders, including President Jimmy Morales, are running scared.”
The treaty creating CICIG, which was ratified by the Guatemalan congress, imposes obligations on the Guatemalan government, including the duty to facilitate the work of CICIG in Guatemala. The accord does not include a withdrawal provision for Guatemala and requires that controversies be resolved by negotiation or mutual agreement. In addition, the president and many members of the Guatemalan congress are being investigated by CICIG. Under Guatemalan law the resulting conflict of interest likely precludes them from acting against CICIG. A request for an injunction to block the government’s action has already been filed with Guatemala’s Constitutional Court.
“I look forward to the results of the Constitutional Court’s review of the government’s action today – an action that smells of desperation, given that the president himself is under investigation for corruption. The Constitutional Court has bravely ruled in favor of CICIG in response to past attacks and I trust they will do so again. The Court’s magistrates have been real heroes in the ongoing struggle to defend rule of law in Guatemala,” said the Congressman.
Section 1287 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019, signed into law by President Trump on August 13, 2018, includes a requirement that the Secretary of State send Congress a list of corrupt officials in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. The list is due is due in February.
“Make no mistake,” added the Congressman. “We in Congress will insist that every high-ranking Guatemalan official working to undermine the fight against corruption in that country be sanctioned under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. The United States Congress will not sit by quietly while those officials continue to enrich themselves and undermine the rule of law in Guatemala.”