Stockholm, Sweden (31 March, 2020) – The International Legal Assistance Consortium (ILAC) has released a new rule of law assessment report, “A Window of Opportunity: Support to the Rule of Law in Guatemala”. The report examines the state of Guatemala’s justice sector after the closure of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) in September 2019. It discusses how recent threats against the justice sector have reversed much of the progress that was made to strengthen the rule of law during CICIG’s existence.
Guatemala cannot combat corruption and strengthen the rule of law without ensuring an independent and impartial judiciary. With a new incoming executive, the report underlines that the international community must seize the window of opportunity to re-engage with Guatemala in combating corruption. This will require finding new and effective models of development cooperation to ensure more sustainable ways of strengthening the rule of law.
“The lack of an independent judiciary in Guatemala threatens the work of Guatemalan judges and lawyers who are in the forefront of the fight against corruption and impunity”, says Lauren McIntosh, ILAC Legal Adviser and one of the report writers. “Guatemala’s new executive has shown early signs that he will refrain from directly attacking the justice sector as his predecessor did and he has taken early steps to reinvigorate the fight against corruption. The international community now has an opportunity to re-engage and support strengthening the rule of law in Guatemala”, she concludes.
In December 2019, the ILAC team interviewed a number of organisations and justice sector actors in Guatemala. “The Window of Opportunity” report was coordinated by ILAC and is a collective effort between ILAC and its member organisations, The Law Society of England and Wales and the Cyrus R Vance Center for International Justice of the New York City Bar Association.
Key recommendations to continue strengthening the rule of law in Guatemala
- Guaranteeing the independence of the judiciary requires not only that Guatemala’s executive and legislature must adhere to the separation of powers, but that judges are empowered to act independently and impartially without fear of retaliation or personal attacks.
- Breaking isolation and returning to multilateralism will require that Guatemala and the international community agree on new long-term cooperation efforts to fight corruption.
- Continuing efforts to fight corruption after CICIG’s closure will require that Guatemala develop new and innovative mechanisms to eradicate corruption with support from and in cooperation with the international community.
The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) funded ILAC’s report and mission.
Founded in 2002, ILAC is an international non-governmental organisation that works to strengthen the rule of law, empower legal professionals and to ensure equal access to justice for all where people’s justice needs are the greatest – in conflict, crisis or transitions to democracy.
ILAC is comprised of more than 80 legal organisations and experts representing over 3 million legal professionals worldwide. Thanks to our broad and extensive membership, we can engage anywhere in the world and respond to requests for legal expertise or practitioners in all legal fields or subjects.
MEDIA CONTACT AND INTERVIEW:
For more information or to speak with Lauren McIntosh, email Vanessa Passos, ILAC Communications Officer at vanessa.passos.araujo(@)ilac.se