International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Nominating Commission Sends Six Finalists for Attorney General to President Morales, as a New Campaign Finance Scandal Engulfs Him

Guatemala is in the process of selecting its next attorney general to serve a four-year term: May 2018-May 2022. Because the process and result could have tremendous implications for grave crimes trials and the rule of law in Guatemala, the International Justice Monitor is providing regular situation reports.

The appointment of Guatemala’s next attorney general is now in the hands of President Jimmy Morales. Last Monday, the Nominating Commission tasked with choosing the shortlist, settled on the final six candidates. Amid concern that the composition of the Commission could make it prone to improper influence, following its vote, the Commission surprised observers by transmitting its results immediately to the president. President Morales has until May 14 to make the appointment.

The development came in the same week … Continue Reading

Leave a comment

Nominating Commission Narrows Attorney General Applicant Pool to 14, but Critics Question Methods and Results

Guatemala is in the process of selecting its next attorney general to serve a four-year term: May 2018-May 2022. Because the process and result could have tremendous implications for grave crimes trials and the rule of law in Guatemala, the International Justice Monitor is providing regular situation reports.

Last week the Nominating Commission eliminated 16 applicants to be Guatemala’s next attorney general, leaving 14 ahead of its expected vote on Monday, April 16, that will determine the six finalists it submits to President Jimmy Morales. Critics have called into question the Commission’s objectivity based on how it conducted interviews with the candidates, designed its “gradation table” to assess candidates, and how it applied those criteria to decide on the advancement or elimination of candidates.

Interviews

The Commission interviewed … Continue Reading

Leave a comment

The Legacy of Ríos Montt, Guatemala’s Most Notorious War Criminal

Guatemala’s most notorious dictator, retired army general José Efraín Ríos Montt, died last Sunday of a heart attack at the age of 91. Ríos Montt came to power in a military coup d’état on March 23, 1982. He was deposed just 17 months later, on August 7, 1983, in a military coup orchestrated by his Minister of Defense, Oscar Humberto Mejía Víctores.

Guatemala experienced extremely high levels of violence during its 36-year internal armed conflict. An estimated 200,000 people were killed, 45,000 disappeared, and tens of thousands forcibly displaced or exiled, along with countless victims of torture and sexual violence. According to the UN-sponsored Historical Clarification Commission (CEH), Ríos Montt continued and amplified the scorched-earth policy designed and implemented by his … Continue Reading

1 Comment

Nominating Commission Considers Objections to Attorney General Candidates Ahead of Public Interviews

Guatemala is in the process of selecting its next attorney general to serve a four-year term: May 2018-May 2022. Because the process and result could have tremendous implications for grave crimes trials and the rule of law in Guatemala, the International Justice Monitor is providing regular situation reports.

Thirty Candidates Remain Viable

Thirty candidates to become Guatemala’s next attorney general remain in the running. After the Nominating Commission narrowed the field of applicants from 39 to 25 in late February, it reinstated four candidates following consideration of their appeals against exclusion. A fifth candidate, Mynor Francisco Hernández Castillo, successfully appealed to the Constitutional Court to be reinstated. (A list all 30 remaining applicants is at the end of this post.)

Controversial Objections

From March 13-15, the … Continue Reading

Leave a comment

President of Attorney General Nominating Commission Mentioned in Alleged Bribery Scheme to Control Nominating Commissions in 2014

Guatemala is in the process of selecting its next attorney general to serve a four-year term: May 2018-May 2022. Because the process and result could have tremendous implications for grave crimes trials and the rule of law in Guatemala, the International Justice Monitor is providing regular situation reports.

The Attorney General’s Office and International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) announced on February 27 that it had issued arrest warrants in relation to an alleged scheme to rig the 2014 Nominating Commission for the selection of judges to the Supreme Court of Justice and civil and criminal appellate courts. Although he is not among the individuals charged, Supreme Court of Justice (SCJ) President José Antonio Pineda Barales met the accused mastermind of the … Continue Reading

Leave a comment

Nominating Commission for Attorney General Narrows Applicant List, Withstands Challenges to Its Work

Guatemala is in the process of selecting its next attorney general to serve a four-year term: May 2018-May 2022. Because the process and result could have tremendous implications for grave crimes trials and the rule of law in Guatemala, the International Justice Monitor is providing regular situation reports.

Field Narrowed

The Nominating Commission (Comisión de Postulación) to recommend finalists for the post of Guatemalan attorney general has rejected 14 of the 39 applications it received, leaving 25 applications remaining. The Commission met last Monday through Wednesday to make its determinations. It rejected the applicants for failing to meet requirements established by law and the call for applications. The Commission threw out applications for such reasons as failure to submit required documentation, failing to have … Continue Reading

Leave a comment

Nominating Commission for Attorney General Receives 39 Applications, but Faces Criticism and Legal Challenges

Guatemala is in the process of selecting its next attorney general to serve a four-year term: May 2018-May 2022. Because the process and result could have tremendous implications for grave crimes trials and the rule of law in Guatemala, the International Justice Monitor will be providing regular situation reports.

The Nominating Commission (Comisión de Postulación) to recommend finalists for the post of Guatemalan attorney general has received 39 applications. However, it has faced significant criticism from civil society organizations over what they say are deficiencies in its procedures that leave openings for political manipulation. Even as the Commission meets this week to determine which applications meet minimum requirements, various individuals have filed four constitutional challenges (amparos) to its work. Three seek amendment of its … Continue Reading

Leave a comment

How Guatemala is Choosing Its Next Attorney General

Guatemala is in the process of selecting its next attorney general to serve a four-year term: May 2018-May 2022. Because the process and result could have tremendous implications for grave crimes trials and the rule of law in Guatemala, the International Justice Monitor will be providing regular situation reports. Today, we provide an explanation of the process itself.

Legal Framework

Guatemala’s constitution established Nominating Commissions (Comisiónes de Postulación) in order to guard against the politicization of judicial appointments to the Supreme Court of Justice, Courts of Appeal, and other collegiate tribunals. The commissions are also intended to protect against politicization of the appointment of the attorney general or any other public positions relevant to the consolidation of the rule of law … Continue Reading

Leave a comment

International Justice Monitor to Follow the Selection Process for Guatemala’s Next Attorney General

Yesterday in Guatemala, a Nominating Commission (Comisión de Postulación) met for the first time to select the shortlist of candidates from which President Jimmy Morales will choose the country’s next attorney general. The selection process strongly affects how or whether domestic trials of grave crimes continue in Guatemala. For this reason, from today until the culmination of the process in mid-May, the International Justice Monitor will be providing regular situation reports on a complex process that in the past has been prone to political manipulation.

What’s at Stake

Over nearly eight years, the Attorney General’s Office has been the main engine for rule of law reform, collaborating closely with the UN-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). Attorneys General Claudia Paz … Continue Reading

Leave a comment

Legislator Proposes Blanket Amnesty for Grave Human Rights Violations in Guatemala

A bill was presented in the Guatemalan congress last week that would effectively establish a blanket amnesty for military officials accused of international crimes related to the internal armed conflict, in which an estimated 200,000 lives were lost. The bill seeks to alter the Law of National Reconciliation, which the Guatemalan congress passed in December 1996 in the context of the United Nations-brokered peace accords. That law provides for amnesty for political crimes, but not for international crimes such as genocide, torture, and other crimes against humanity.

The Proposed Legislation

On November 6, 2017, Congressman Fernando Linares Beltranena presented a proposal to reform Decree No. 145-1996, known as the Law of National Reconciliation. This law provides for amnesty for political crimes, but … Continue Reading

1 Comment