Press Release

IACHR Expresses Alarm at the Declaration of Persona Non Grata of Iván Velásquez, Head of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) and the Order for his Expulsion

August 27, 2017

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights expresses alarm and concern at the decision of Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales to declare Iván Velásquez—the head of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (ICIG)—persona non grata and order him expelled from the country.

The IACHR is particularly dismayed at the lack of grounds for this decision. The IACHR reminds the State of Guatemala that a declaration of persona non grata must be made exceptionally and never as justification for carrying out a summary expulsion in response to work defending human rights. In this regard, the IACHR has emphatically stated that any process that could affect the rights of an individual must respect due process guarantees so that the person can defend his or herself adequately in the event of any act of the State, including the right to judicial review that can suspend the action.

The Inter-American Commission notes the recent decision of the Constitutional Court of Guatemala granting the provisional amparo requested, suspending the decision to expel.

The Inter-American Commission reiterates its recognition of the important work performed by CICIG (as expressed in both its Country Report and monitoring of recommendations, as well as its recent in loco visit) with regard to measures and actions aimed at combatting corruption and impunity in Guatemala in recent years. The CICIG has joined the Public Ministry in playing a vital role in this process. The IACHR notes that recent investigations by both institutions found that senior State officials and various actors within the country were involved in illegal acts of corruption.

The IACHR stresses the fundamental importance of the struggle against corruption for guaranteeing the effective enjoyment of human rights and independent, impartial justice. In this context, the IACHR underscores the importance of establishing measures to protect administrators of justice and investigators that guarantee their ability to conduct their work without becoming the victims of threats, intimidation, and other actions against their lives and physical integrity.

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 defense of 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. 127/17