Law Society of England and Wales Hosts United Kingdom Launch of ILAC Guatemala Justice Sector Assessment Report

On 06 November, ILAC member organisation the Law Society of England and Wales arranged a UK launch for the new ILAC assessment report on the justice system in Guatemala. The public seminar brought together legal practitioners, law students, academics and NGO expertise on Guatemala and Latin America for a well-attended and wide-ranging discussion of the report.

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The panel of experts included Sue Willman, Senior Partner at Deighton Pierce Glynn and Law Society Human Rights Committee member, who participated in the Guatemala assessment as an expert. Rhodri Williams, ILAC Senior Legal Expert and Team Leader for the assessment also joined. Ms Willman described the situation that the expert team witnessed in Guatemala during the assessment:

   Marginalized groups in society suffered particularly due to ongoing impunity and weaknesses in the justice system,” said Willman. “Women and LGBTI persons remain exposed to appalling levels of violence and discrimination despite some efforts to provide a more protective legal response. In the countryside, the justice system frequently plays a direct role in the criminalization and eviction of rural indigenous communities seeking to defend their land rights.

The other experts on the panel were Alfredo Ortega, Chevening Scholar at Oxford University and former Guatemalan Attorney at the Centre for Justice and International Law  and Sander Wirken, co-Director of the documentary “Burden of Peace” and Researcher at the University of Amsterdam.

Welcoming remarks were given by Tony Fisher, Senior Partner of Fisher Jones Greenwood and Chair of the Law Society’s Human Rights Committee and Professor Sir Ross Cranston chaired the session.

Mr Williams expressed his gratitude to the Law Society for hosting the launch, noting the importance of maintaining commitment during a difficult time for rule of law in Guatemala:

   We are particularly concerned that the Guatemalan government continues its efforts to prematurely end the work of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG),” said Williams. “Many of the compromises now under discussion to save the CICIG would undercut its independence, compromising its ability to help the justice system attain greater independence and effectiveness.

 During the launch, the experts also took part in a number of other events, including a meeting at Parliament with the “All Party Parliamentary Group on Human Rights” hosted by Baroness d’Souza and facilitated by Nicole Piche (APPG-Human Rights Secretariat). The experts also participated in a a lunch seminar hosted by the International Committee of the Inner Temple Inn of Court, including Sub-Treasurer Greg Dorey, Master and ILAC individual member Nicholas Stewart QC, Master Dorian Lovell-Pank QC, and Master Geoffrey Nice QC.

ILAC wishes to express its particular gratitude to Lizzette Robleto de Howarth, International Programmes Manager at the The Law Society and member of ILAC’s Advisory Council, for organising the launch events.

The next public seminar on the ILAC Guatemala Justice Sector Assessment Report will be held tomorrow,  Friday, 23 November from 10:30 to 12:00 at the headquarters of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency  in Stockholm.

The event will feature the 2018 Right Livelihood Award Laureates Iván Velasquez, Head of the CICIG and Thelma Aldana, former Attorney General of Guatemala.