Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman and the Foreign Minister of Guatemala, Carlos Raul Morales, co-chaired on 27 June 2017 a meeting on the work of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). This unique entity, which marks its 10th anniversary this year, is still little known outside Guatemala, but in that country it is a major player, having carried out numerous ground breaking investigations into illicit political-economic networks and state institutions. For example, CICIG’s work alongside the Attorney-General of Guatemala is credited with helping spark the large-scale social movement against corruption in the country in 2015.
As evidenced during the 27 June meeting, CICIG is seen by many in the international community, and civil society within and outside Guatemala, as a successful model in the fight against impunity, corruption and organized crime. CICIG head Ivan Velasquez briefed the meeting on the main achievements of the Commission over the past year in relation to two aspects of its mandate: promoting criminal investigations into illicit political-economic networks entrenched in state institutions; and promoting institutional and legal reforms key to consolidating the fight against impunity in Guatemala. During the briefing, a number of UN Member States expressed full backing for CICIG and great appreciation for the work of Commissioner Velasquez. The support he enjoys is reflected in the confidence demonstrated in his work by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who has just extended his mandate for another two years.
CICIG began its work in 2007 as an independent, international body designed to support Guatemala’s Public Prosecutor’s Office, the National Civil Police (PNC) and other State institutions in the investigation of crimes committed by members of illegal security forces and clandestine security structures and, in a more general sense, help to disband such groups. To do so, CICIG assists with investigations and criminal prosecutions in a small number of complex cases, as well as implementing steps —in accordance with its mandate—aimed at strengthening the institutions of the justice system so that they can continue to tackle these illegal groups in the future.
CICIG investigates the existence of illicit security forces and clandestine security organizations that commit crimes that affect the fundamental human rights of the citizens of Guatemala, and identifies the structures of these illegal groups (including the links between such groups and State officials) as well as their activities, operating modalities and sources of financing. Secondly, CICIG helps the State to disband clandestine security structures and illegal security groups, and promotes the investigation, criminal prosecution and punishment of the crimes committed by the members of such groups. CICIG also makes recommendations to the State of Guatemala regarding public policies to be adopted —including the necessary judicial and institutional reforms— to eradicate and prevent the re-emergence of clandestine security structures and illegal security forces.
CICIG has the authority to provide technical advice to the state bodies responsible for conducting criminal investigations (especially the Public Prosecutor’s Office). CICIG can act as a complementary prosecutor, and has legal standing to file administrative complaints against public officials, particularly against officials who have carried out acts to thwart the fulfillment of CICIG’s mandate. It can also act as an interested third party in disciplinary procedures undertaken against such officials. Furthermore, CICIG has the authority to ensure confidentiality for people who cooperate in investigations —be it as witnesses, expert witnesses or a person who cooperates— and foster their protection before the relevant authorities.
For a rundown of the cases CICIG has been involved in, please visit the Commission’s website: www.cicig.org.
Also see our interview with CICIG head Iván Velásquez Gómez from last year: https://dpa-ps.atavist.com/fighting-impunity-in-guatemala