Guatemalan bishops express support for UN anti-corruption commission
Tuesday, 15 January 2019 Guatemala City, Guatemala, Jan 14, 2019 / 07:01 pm (ACI Prensa).- The bishops of Guatemala expressed Thursday their grave concern at confrontations among governmental branches over a UN anti-corruption investigatory body.
The Guatemalan government informed the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala Jan. 7 that its member were to leave the country within 24 hours. The commission had begun investigating president Jimmy Morales over election fraud and funding irregulaties in his 2015 campaign. Its remit is not due to end until September.
The Constitutional Court granted a temporary injunction Jan. 9 to block the government's decision.
However, the Supreme Court of Justice then held a preliminary hearing to strip immunity from prosecution for judicial malfeasance from three of the five judges on the Constitutional Court, which has created tensions among the branches of government.
The Guatemalan bishops' conference said Jan. 10 that “We deeply lament the open confrontation between the current government and other legitimately constituted state agencies which puts at risk the already fragile rule of law in the country. Therefore we reaffirm the need to defend the primacy of the rule of law and respect for the laws, beginning with the Constitution."
They also said that they viewed “with satisfaction and relief the actions consistent with the law taken by the Constitutional Court” and rejected the “polarization that, taken to its extremes, degenerates into violence with grave consequences for social peace.”
“Thus energies are wasted that should be directed toward the solution of the country's serious underlying problems such as deficiencies in healthcare, education, social inequality, unemployment, migration, the victims of natural disasters, disrespect for human rights and so many others that are detrimental to the quality of life,” the bishops said.
In their communiqué the bishops also expressed their desire that the June 16 general elections “unfold under the conditions of the rule of law.”
“We ask all Guatemalans to be adequately informed. God willing, we will all do our best to ensure that the next electoral process be an opportunity to find solutions for the common good, for corruption or illegal financing,” they added.
Finally the Guatemalan bishops exhorted the entire Christian people to “to pray and commit themselves to building a different Guatemala.”
In addition to the statement of the Guatemalan bishops' conference, Bishop Alvaro Leonel Ramazzini Imeri of Huehuetenango stated his worry Jan. 9 at president Morales' decision, “contrary to the constitutional norms and principles and to the norms of international law,” to expel the anti-corruption commission.
The CICIG has been operating since 2006. It has no prosecutorial power, but rather assists in investigations, which are handed over to Guatemalan prosecutors. It has helped to make cases against high-profile politicians and business leaders.
This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.