IACHR Press Office
Washington, DC—The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) calls on the State of Guatemala to guarantee political rights, pluralism, and equal participation in the country's upcoming elections.
On January 21, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) began registering presidential and vice-presidential candidates for various public offices that will be renewed in the general elections to be held on June 25, 2023. By January 21, the TSE had received at least 11 files from political organizations seeking to register their presidential candidates and more than 86 for candidates for national, district, and municipal deputies and the Central American Parliament. The registration of candidates will close on March 25, 2023.
On January 27, the IACHR was informed that the General Directorate of the Citizen Registry had refused to register the presidential and vice-presidential candidates of the Movimiento para la Liberación de los Pueblos (MLP) political party, Thelma Cabrera Pérez de Sánchez and Augusto Jordán Rodas Andrade. It refused Mr. Rodas on the grounds that "legal charges and a complaint" had allegedly been brought against him. As Mr. Rodas still has not been formally notified of these charges, he will not be able to comply with the legal requirement of presenting a settlement or temporary proof issued by the Comptroller General of Accounts that no charges have been pressed, as stipulated in Guatemalan legislation. On February 2, the TSE confirmed this decision. According to the information received, Mr. Rodas Andrade filed an injunction before the Supreme Court of Justice on February 5, 2023, which was denied. On February 15, 2023, this decision was appealed before the Constitutional Court, which has yet to rule. According to the information provided to the IACHR, no ruling has been handed down by administrative, criminal, or civil authorities in relation to Mr. Rodas.
The State of Guatemala has argued that the TSE guarantees that the electoral process complies with the provisions set out in the Guatemalan Constitution, which establishes that eligibility to run for public office shall "be based exclusively on capacity, suitability, and honesty." It also reported that the State has acted through the competent institutions in accordance with national law, specifically the Probity and Responsibility Act for Public Officials and Employees. This legislation stipulates that those who have received, held custody of, or administered State assets and do not hold a solvency or settlement certificate issued by the Comptroller General's Office may not run for any public office. It also contains a provision instructing this office to issue a preliminary document stating that no claims or lawsuits against the requesting party are pending.
Likewise, the State noted that all interested parties have been allowed to appeal decisions through the available courses of legal action in compliance with international human rights standards, and that it is therefore inappropriate to call on the State to guarantee the right to run for office when this is currently being guaranteed.
In accordance with the standards of the inter-American system, exercising the right to participate in government constitutes an end in itself and is a fundamental path through which democratic societies guarantee other rights set out in the Inter-American Convention. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights noted that, unlike other articles of the Convention, Article 23 establishes that all citizens must enjoy both political rights and opportunities to exercise these. This implies "the obligation to ensure, by taking positive measures, that anyone who is the formal holder of political rights has the real possibility of exercising them. Consequently, the State must facilitate the ways and means to ensure that these rights can be exercised effectively, respecting the principles of equality and nondiscrimination." (OC-28/21)
The IACHR called on the State of Guatemala to guarantee that individuals, groups, organizations, and political parties can participate in government through regulations and practices that enable real, effective access to the different legislative spaces on equal terms. Likewise, it called on the judicial authorities that hear appeals regarding guarantees of political rights to act in accordance with the regulatory framework and inter-American standards.
A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (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.