IACHR URGES TRANSPARENT, INCLUSIVE PROCESS IN APPOINTMENT OF JUDGES IN GUATEMALA
Washington, D.C., October 6, 2009 — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has repeatedly expressed its concern over the last few years about the serious situation regarding the administration of justice in Guatemala. The judiciary has yet to guarantee, for the majority of Guatemalan men and women, that human rights will be respected through the investigation of complaints and the individualization and punishment of those responsible for human rights violations of the present and the past. The Guatemalan State’s lack of capacity to provide an adequate and efficient justice administration system, and to provide justice that is independent and impartial, hinders Guatemalans’ access to justice. Without an administration of justice that is strong and that respects individuals’ fundamental rights, it is impossible to bring about the democratic strengthening of the State and of the rule of law needed in Guatemala.
In June 2009, the IACHR conducted a working visit to Guatemala. In a press release at the end of the visit, the Commission’s Rapporteur for Guatemala, Commissioner Víctor Abramovich, expressed his satisfaction over the approval of the Law of Proposal Commissions, whose purpose was to regulate the selection of nominees for key public offices, such as judges for the Supreme Court and Appellate Court, among others. This law seeks to guarantee transparency in the election of high public officials as well as the participation of civil society in the candidate selection process. The Rapporteur said at that time that the initiative was an important step toward improving the functioning of the administration of justice in Guatemala, particularly in terms of its independence and impartiality.
The IACHR has learned that members of the Court of Appeals will be elected in the near future. In this regard, and taking into account the recent results of the election of members of the Supreme Court of Justice, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights urges the competent authorities to adequately implement the mechanism established by the Law of Proposal Commissions so as to guarantee that candidates’ backgrounds and the steps for selection are made public in a process that is broad and inclusive, and that civil society has effective participation and oversight throughout the process. The IACHR especially urges the competent authorities to seriously take into consideration the recommendations made by civil society and by the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) in making the final decisions.
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 Commission is composed of seven independent members who act in a personal capacity, without representing a particular country, and who are elected by the OAS General Assembly.
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