Guatemala Metropolis – Guatemala’s controversial legal professional basic has begun a second time period, however Maria Consuelo Porras‘This week’s last-minute re-appointment has sparked widespread condemnation and new sanctions amid alarms over a slide within the rule of regulation.
President Alejandro Giammattei was sworn in in Porras for one more 4 years on Monday, regardless of critics accusing her of taking part in a job in disrupting anti-corruption efforts and judicial independence, together with by means of a “suppression” of key anti-sanctions prosecutors and judges.
“We’re getting into a interval of dictatorship in Guatemala,” mentioned Edie Cux, authorized director of Accion Ciudadana, Guatemala chapter of Transparency Worldwide, a worldwide anti-corruption NGO.
“It creates not solely a disaster of the justice system but additionally a disaster generally within the nation,” he instructed Al Jazeera.
The US introduced the brand new penalties simply hours after the inauguration, barring each Porras and her husband from getting into the US. Washington additionally suspended assist to its workplace final yr.
“Throughout her tenure, Porras repeatedly obstructed and sabotaged anti-corruption investigations in Guatemala to guard her political allies and acquire undue political favor,” mentioned Secretary of State. Antony Blinken mentioned in a press release explaining the transfer.
The US State Division positioned Porras on a separate record of Corruption and Undemocratic Actors final yr after she was instantly fired. Juan Francisco SandovalThe well-known anti-sanctions particular prosecutor directs high-profile investigations into high-profile corruption.
Sandoval held a press convention shortly after he was sacked in July 2021, accusing Porras of obstructing a corruption investigation between ruling celebration officers and their allies. He fled the nation that very same night time and went into exile in America.
“Investigations involving the president are underway,” Sandoval instructed Al Jazeera in an interview late final yr, including that he believes he was focused as half of a bigger scheme. a lot to defend these in energy.
Authorities denies corruption
Giaammattei and Porras have repeatedly denied being concerned in it corruption. They are saying Sandoval, Porras’ two predecessors and different prosecutors in exile, and judges engaged in ideologically selective manipulation of justice and prosecution.
The president’s spokesman couldn’t be reached for remark, and after the deadline for publication, Al Jazeera directed Al Jazeera to the Ministry of Overseas Affairs. Nonetheless, Giammattei has, immediately and not directly, dismissed the US and different worldwide issues over the previous yr as overseas interference.
“The Prosecutor’s Workplace is an autonomous group that’s not affiliated with any worldwide group,” a spokesman for the workplace instructed Al Jazeera in a written assertion, including that the legal professional basic doesn’t settle for any form of strain and can proceed to work carefree.
The spokesman mentioned the US statements and designations are “unwarranted accusations that violate not solely the presumption of human innocence but additionally the precept of non-interference”.
Porras offered its fourth annual report on Monday and highlighted, amongst different issues, vital progress in lowering the backlog.
However critics level out that one issue behind that enchancment is that instances are merely being closed far more shortly when investigations are usually not progressing. “It’s a significant issue,” mentioned Claudia Samayoa, a human rights activist. “It’s affecting immediately, for instance, girls who’re victims of violence.”
Indigenous authorities, NGOs and activists in Guatemala have condemned Porras’ reappointment, which they are saying has far broader implications than merely prosecuting corruption instances. .
“It’s horrible information, not solely due to her workplace there was an overt crackdown on judges, prosecutors and human rights defenders, but additionally as a result of there have been harmless within the face of the murders of human rights defenders,” Samayoa instructed Al Jazeera.
UDEFEGUA, a nationwide human rights group, has documented greater than 1,800 incidents of intimidation and violence towards rights defenders between 2020 and 2021. Indigenous group leaders in addition to prosecutors , unbiased investigators and judges have been particularly focused with felony prices.
A collection of present and former prosecutors had been arrested earlier this yr on prices of abuse of energy throughout high-profile corruption investigations. Judges presiding over main corruption instances and crimes towards humanity in the course of the civil struggle have additionally confronted threats and prosecution.
Civil society teams held a information convention on Tuesday in Guatemala Metropolis to specific help for decide Miguel Angel Galvez, the most recent goal of the next threats of violence and criminalization. His ruling this month goals to place 9 former military and cops on trial for enforcement. disappearances of dissidents within the Nineteen Eighties.
Authorized motion taken beneath Porras’ supervision towards unbiased judges, legal professionals and prosecutors “kinds a part of a broader sample of intimidation and harassment that has led to greater than 20 executives justice should go away the nation,” the European Union’s spokesman for overseas affairs mentioned on Tuesday. assertion expressed concern concerning the reappointment of Porras.
Guatemalan authorities present they haven’t any downside with persevering with to suppress judges, prosecutors and different judicial figures and that might develop to incorporate many critics and critics fairly, based on Cux, who predicts additional institutional decline in human rights.
“It is dependent upon what occurs now with the response of the individuals and the worldwide group,” he mentioned. “In the event that they don’t have any threshold, I believe we’re going to enter a a lot darker period than the one we’ve had within the final two years.”