Unfinished Business: International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala dismantled
Peace, Democracy and Law, 03/09/2019
One of the most successful anti-corruption campaigns the world has ever seen comes to a premature end today. The International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, CICIG, led a 12-year effort to strengthen the rule of law in a country notorious for its high level of corruption and impunity. Guatemala’s president had ordered the shutdown of the U.N. sponsored body.
“The successful work of CICIG to strengthen the judicial system and to guarantee accountability, transparency and respect for the rule of law in Guatemala must continue. The work of CICIG should be used as a road map for the future, also in other parts of the world where corruption is poisoning society”, says Ole von Uexkull, Executive Director of the Right Livelihood Foundation.
In 2018, two eminent personalities in CICIG’s drive for accountability and justice, Iván Velásquez, the Colombian head of CICIG, and Thelma Aldana, Guatemala’s Chief Prosecutor from 2014 to 2018, received the Right Livelihood Award “for their innovative work in exposing abuse of power and prosecuting corruption, thus rebuilding people’s trust in public institutions.”
“CICIG’s greatest legacy is the strengthening of the Public Ministry and the system of justice in general. But most importantly, it contributed to the public awareness that nobody is above the law and that the fight against corruption and impunity is possible”, says Thelma Aldana.
Since the start, CICIG investigated 120 high-impact cases of graft that involved powerful politicians and influential businesspeople and it submitted 34 proposals for legal reform. The investigations led to the dismantling of 70 criminal structures, the prosecution of 600 people and the ordering of 400 sentences according to a final report presented by the Commission in Guatemala City on August 20.
Velásquez and Aldana had to address the presentation of the report by video message. Velásquez has been declared persona non grata and was barred from entering the country by presidential order. Aldana left Guatemala for security reasons earlier this year while a persecution campaign put her out of the Presidential elections.
CICIG had been invited into Guatemala in 2007 by a former government desperate to free the country from the grip of organised crime groups and acting on civil society demands. The commission’s work brought down former President Otto Pérez Molina and his vice-president. When the investigations zoomed in on Jimmy Morales, the current president, he declared CICIG a threat to the country. Morales declined to renew its mandate and ordered the commission’s international staff to leave.
The 2019 Right Livelihood Award Laureates will be announced in Stockholm on 25 September.
For further information, please contact, Johannes Mosskin, Director of Communications (see contact details below).
About the Right Livelihood Foundation
Established in 1980, the Right Livelihood Foundation honours and supports courageous people solving global problems. The Swedish Foundation annually presents the Right Livelihood Award, widely known as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’. The Foundation sees its role as being the megaphone and shield for the Laureates and provides them with long-term support. It also helps protect award recipients whose life and liberty are in danger. To this date, there are 174 Laureates from 70 countries working on all 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.
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