Thelma Aldana (Guatemala)
& Iván Velásquez (Colombia)
...for their innovative work in exposing the abuse of power and prosecuting corruption, thus rebuilding people’s trust in public institutions.
Thelma Aldana (Guatemala) & Iván Velásquez (Colombia) have been at the forefront of one of the most successful anti-corruption efforts seen anywhere in the world. Since 2014 and 2013 respectively, Aldana and Velásquez have led the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), an Independent body established by an agreement between the Guatemalan government and the UN. Through their leadership of these institutions, they have spearheaded the campaign to tackle deep rooted criminal networks and corruption that have plagued Guatemala for decades.
In a country still reeling from the effects of 36 years of internal conflict, Aldana & Velásquez have demonstrated a historically unique model of joint international and local legal action that sets a benchmark for other countries with similar problems. The cooperation between them and the institutions they have represented has resulted in several high-profile and sensitive criminal investigations, most notably the La Línea corruption case, which led to 60 prosecutions, including the arrest of then President Otto Pérez Molina and his Vice President Roxanna Baldetti.
Aldana & Velásquez have played a crucial role in shaping a defining era in Guatemalan history, while also rebuilding trust in public institutions. As a consequence, they have faced sustained resistance and endured great personal risk. Their courageous and exemplary work has so far resulted in more than 60 criminal structures identified, more than 310 convictions, and 34 proposed legal reforms.
After ending her four-year mandate as Attorney General in May 2018, Aldana has been living outside of Guatemala for security reasons. While Velásquez’s mandate as CICIG’s commissioner runs until September 2019, president Jimmy Morales, on 4 September 2018, banned him from entering the country and urged the UN Secretary-General to propose new candidates for the position. At the moment of this announcement, Guatemala’s Constitutional Court and the UN have supported Velásquez as head of CICIG, and tens of thousands of Guatemalan citizens are taking to the streets in protest.