Strengthening the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala
Title: Strengthening the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Lead executing agency: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Overall term: 2016 to 2017
A functioning justice system is a key component of good governance and a prerequisite for effectively safeguarding democratic rights and the protection of human rights. Despite reform efforts and some progress, Guatemala continues to face major challenges in this regard. Transparency International, for example, has raised serious doubts about the independence and professionalism of the Guatemalan justice system.
Since the signing of the peace accords of 1996, endeavours have been undertaken to strengthen the justice system, not least by the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, which was established in 2006 by agreement with the United Nations and ratified by the Congress of Guatemala in 2007. The Commission has the authority to conduct independent investigations and bring charges against third parties in Guatemalan courts. Above all, it aims to investigate the involvement of state institutions and public figures in criminal acts. The International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala supports the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the National Civil Police, as well as other institutions in bringing wrongdoers to justice. It also supports state actors in their efforts to build structures and mechanisms based on the rule of law which eradicate and prevent the re-emergence of criminal structures.
The conditions for effective and lawful criminal prosecution, with the involvement of civil society actors, have improved.
The conditions for effective and lawful criminal prosecution in Guatemala are inadequate. The project aims to remedy this situation, with a view to strengthening rule-of-law structures and reducing levels of impunity. In doing so, it works with institutions at national and where possible departmental and municipal level, as well as civil society organizations.
The mandate of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala is limited in duration; the President decides whether to extend the mandate every two years. Inter-institutional cooperation must therefore be strengthened and the effectiveness of the social audit function improved. Building the capacities and enhancing the performance of the Public Prosecutor’s Office are also of vital importance.
Based on selected case analyses, weaknesses in the criminal prosecution process (reporting, investigating, charging, trial, verdict, appeal) are to be identified in order to prepare recommendations on how these can be rectified.
The Commission will receive a further investigation unit tasked with exposing corruption in the justice system and in public administration, as well as tax and customs offences. The interdisciplinary team, which is expected to consist of nine people, will be funded for a year and a half.