Mr. Türk’s warning comes amid the reported harassment and prosecution of justice officers concerned with the UN-backed Worldwide Fee towards Impunity (CICIG), together with, most lately, former Commissioner Francisco Dall’Anese.
The UN rights chief referred to as on the Guatemalan authorities “to guarantee judges and attorneys can operate freely and with out concern of reprisals”. An unbiased judiciary is “important” for a democratic society, he insisted.
The Worldwide Fee towards Impunity was an unbiased physique established by a UN-Guatemala settlement in 2007 to hold out corruption probes. Its work ceased in September 2019 when its mandate was not renewed amid assaults by then-President Jimmy Morales.
Barred from standing
Mr. Türk additionally warned about potential violations of the appropriate to take part in public affairs, because the candidacies of a number of presidential and vice-presidential candidates for the upcoming June elections have been rejected by election authorities.
“I’m additionally involved that presidential and vice-presidential candidates from throughout the political spectrum, together with Thelma Cabrera, Jordan Rodas and Roberto Arzú, have had their candidacies for the 25 June elections rejected by the Electoral Courtroom on seemingly arbitrary grounds,” the Excessive Commissioner stated.
Thelma Cabrera was the one indigenous candidate working for president till the choice to disqualify her from the race. Appeals on all three instances are presently earlier than the Supreme Courtroom.
Judicial independence in danger
Mr. Türk burdened that “the appropriate to take part in public affairs, together with the appropriate to vote and to face for election, is an internationally acknowledged human proper,” including that judiciary authorities ought to “determine issues earlier than them impartially, on the premise of info and in accordance with the regulation, with none restrictions or improper affect”.
Earlier this yr, the UN rights chief sounded the alarm on comparable reprisals in Guatemala, because the nation’s Particular Prosecutor’s Workplace towards impunity introduced arrest warrants towards three justice officers, together with a former CICIG staffer.
Surge in harassment
When presenting his report on Guatemala to the Human Rights Council in March, Mr. Türk identified that between 2021 and 2022, his workplace had documented a greater than 70 per cent enhance within the variety of justice officers dealing with intimidation and prison prices within the nation.
The harassment was associated to the officers’ work on corruption or human rights violations, notably those who occurred within the context of the civil warfare from 1960 to 1996. Some had left the nation, fearing for his or her security.
Guatemala’s human rights file was examined in January 2023 beneath the Common Periodic Overview. A major variety of suggestions made as a part of that course of, by different Member States, have been associated to the necessity to assure the independence of the judiciary, shield justice officers, and strengthen anti-corruption measures and the rule.