Organizations say the situation of judges in Guatemala is worrying

GUATEMALA CITY (HPD) — The Latin American Federation of Magistrates and the International Federation of Judges said in a report that the situation of justice operators in Guatemala, including judges who have issued anti-corruption and crimes against humanity rulings, is absolutely violation of their rights.

After visiting the country and interviewing judges and prosecutors, the federations indicated that Guatemala is not providing the necessary conditions for independent justice to exercise its function.

“Judges are in a situation of imminent danger, criminalization and unnecessary departure (from the country) to take care of their physical integrity and that of their family,” denounced Adriana Orocú, a Costa Rican judge and president of the Latin American Federation of Magistrates.

Orocú said that the entire institutional apparatus is being used to criminalize, intimidate and threaten justice operators, seeking to imprison them or provoke their exile “of those who work honestly and strictly adhere to the law.”

He specifically referred to the situation of Judge Miguel Ángel Gálvez, who has been recognized nationally and internationally for his rulings against crimes against humanity and against corruption.

Gálvez was the judge who placed former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt on the bench, accused of the genocide of 1,771 Ixil indigenous people during the war in Guatemala (1960-1996). The former dictator died in April 2018 without being tried.

Gálvez is facing an immunity withdrawal petition requested by the Public Ministry to be investigated, after having been denounced by a far-right foundation in Guatemala that defends ex-military accused of war crimes and constantly threatens and harasses the judge on social networks.

The foundation accuses the judge of violating due process in five cases, at least two of these were not heard by the judge.

The federation said that the situation of justice operators in Guatemala has worsened after the departure in 2019 of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), a United Nations entity that dismantled power groups and embedded organized crime in Guatemala, but also —he indicated— due to the arrival at the head of the Public Ministry of Consuelo Porras.

Porras was sanctioned in 2021 by the United States government, which withdrew her entry visa to that country —as established— for hindering the fight against corruption and for undermining democracy in Guatemala.

The Federation said that there are at least 30 justice operators who have gone into exile seeking to protect themselves from criminalization against them.

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