Guatemala: The ICJ welcomes the Constitutional Court order that the CICIG Commissioner Iván Velásquez be permitted to re-enter the country

On 16 September, the Constitutional Court made public its decision to order that the Commissioner of the International Commission against Impunity (CICIG) Iván Velásquez be permitted to re-enter the country.

For more than a decade, the UN-backed CICIG has helped investigate high-profile officials for corruption.

Under the tenure of head commissioner Ivan Velasquez, the CICIG has helped Guatemalan prosecutors investigate and prosecute many high-level politicians, judges and government officials, including former president Otto Perez Molina and members of his cabinet.

Elected in 2015, current President Jimmy Morales initially supported the CICIG but he himself and other family members have become subjects of investigations into illegal campaign financing. They deny all charges.

President Morales declared on 31 August that he would not renew the mandate of the CICIG which is due to expire in September 2019 and then proceeded to ban Commissioner Velasquez from re-entering the country.

This decision sparked a number of protests including legal challenges in the Constitutional Court.

 “The decision by the Constitutional Court should permit the CICIG to continue its work. It removes one of the greatest obstacles, imposed by order of Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales himself, to the fulfilment of Guatemala’s international obligations, as enshrined in the International Accord on Human Rights which created the Commission,” said Ramon Cadena, ICJ Director for Central America.

With respect to the amparo lawsuits which sought an injunction to reverse the  the decision of the President Morales not to renew the mandate of the CICIG, the Constitutional Court declined to order provisional measures and therefore these legal proceedings will continue until they are determined in court.

“The ICJ urges the Constitutional Court to respect the legal time limits and to make a final decision on the lawsuit, in compliance with international human rights law and standards.

If the mandate of the CICIG were not renewed, it would seriously affect access to justice and constitute a major obstacle to the fulfilment of Guatemala’s international obligation to combat impunity,” Ramon Cadena added.

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