IACHR Adopts Resolution on Human Rights and Serious Risks for the Rule of Law in Guatemala

December 11, 2023

Resolution 3/23

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) adopted Human Rights Resolution 03/2023, Instrumentalization of the Justice System and Serious Risks for the Rule of Law in Guatemala, given the serious political and institutional crisis that is ongoing in the country. This crisis is due to the unwarranted and arbitrary actions and interference of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, which are endangering the results of this year’s General Election and the ongoing transfer of power to a new president and vice president.
The IACHR’s Resolution alerts Member States of the Organization of American States (OAS) and the international community at large of the imminent breach of the constitutional order in Guatemala, due to an abuse of power by the Public Prosecutor’s Office and to the instrumentalization of the criminal investigation powers granted to the Public Prosecutor’s Office by the Constitution. With its actions, the Public Prosecutor’s Office seeks to invalidate the integrity and the results of the recent electoral process and to prevent elected authorities from taking office in keeping with the will of the Guatemalan people expressed in a general election.
The IACHR warns that instrumentalizing the justice system and criminal law in Guatemala—as has been done since the beginning of this electoral process—has exposed an unwarranted and arbitrary exercise of power by the Public Prosecutor’s Office for its own political and electoral ends. The ongoing crisis has also eroded the checks and balances of a democratic State that respects the rule of law, in the absence of guarantees granted by the judiciary in the exercise of its legitimate role of overseeing constitutionality and conventionality. This situation, which has also benefited from the complacency of the executive, has called into question the constitutional order, the rule of law, and the protection of the human rights of the Guatemalan people.
The IACHR further notes expedited pretrial proceedings and other seriously questioned decisions made by the Guatemalan Congress in this context, like the decision to lift the immunity of Supreme Electoral Court magistrates.
In its resolution, the IACHR makes a series of recommendations to the State of Guatemala. The Commission urges all branches of government to ensure respect for the constitutional order and the preservation of the rule of law. The IACHR further calls for mechanisms to ensure that the leadership of the Public Prosecutor’s Office remain accountable and that their actions comply with the standards of international human rights law and reflect the principles of autonomy and independence required of any Public Prosecutor’s Office. The Commission calls on the State of Guatemala to ensure that processes to recruit and appoint judicial officers reflect the applicable inter-American standards and are based on merit and professional competence, without undue political interference. The IACHR further calls on the State to protect the lives and the integrity of elected political authorities, rights defenders, journalists and other media workers, and indigenous peoples and their ancestral authorities.
A principal, autonomous body of the OAS, the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 287/23

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