On December 12, 2006, the United Nations and the Guatemalan government signed an agreement to establish an independent International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). The mandate of CICIG is to investigate and promote the prosecution of illegal security organizations. These powerful clandestine groups are allegedly responsible for frequent attacks against human rights defenders, as well as involved in corruption, organized crime, drug trafficking and political violence.
In February 2007, three Salvadoran parliamentarians and their driver were assassinated by senior members of the Guatemalan National Civilian Police, including the head of the organized crime unit. Four of those police officers were themselves subsequently killed while in a high security Guatemalan jail. The incident has demonstrated the extent to which illegal security organizations have infiltrated high levels of state institutions in Guatemala. It has also shown the pressing need for the international community, by means of CICIG, to assist the Guatemalan government in investigating and promoting the prosecution of illegal security organizations.
CICIG has the potential to:
- uncover the full extent of the illegal security organizations and dismantle their underlying structure;
- investigate and promote the prosecutions of members of illegal security organizations responsible for crimes and attacks against human rights defenders;
- prevent future attacks on human rights defenders by putting an end to the culture of impunity that encourages such attacks;
- recommend public policies for eradicating illegal security groups and preventing their re-emergence; and
- support, strengthen and assist Guatemalan institutions to uphold the rule of law.
On May 8, 2007, the Guatemalan Constitutional Court held that the agreement to establish CICIG was constitutional.
Human Rights First’s Advocacy in Support of CICIG
Human Rights First has long supported the establishment of CICIG. In December 2006, in response to our alert, over one thousand members of our Defender Alert Network wrote to the Guatemalan Congress urging it to pass the CICIG agreement. In March 2007, in a press release and letter to President Bush we urged him to publicly support CICIG during his trip to Guatemala. On March 12 2007, the President did just that stating, “[Guatemalan] President Berger is working with the United Nations to form an international commission to help investigate and prosecute organized crime in Guatemala, and the United States strongly supports this effort.”
After hearings supported and attended by Human Rights First, on March 21, 2007, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights condemned the recent increase in attacks against Guatemalan human rights defenders and called for the establishment of CICIG.
Following meetings we organized with key members of the US Congress, the House of Representatives on April 9, 2007 wrote a letter to the Guatemalan Congress encouraging to the ratify the CICIG agreement. The European Parliament also issued a Resolution in favor of CICIG.
On May 1, 2007 after hundreds of members of our Defender Alert Network took action on our alert and sent emails to US Senators, the United States Senate passed a resolution encouraging the Guatemalan Congress to pass the CICIG agreement.
On July 23, 2007 over 1,000 members of our Defender Alert Network signed a petition which urged Guatemalan members of Congress to ratify the agreement after a Congressional Committee initially voted against it. Shortly afterwards, various members of the US Congress continued to pressure the Guatemala Congress to approve the CICIG agreement.
Finally on August 1 2007 the Guatemalan Congress voted to establish CICIG.
- The International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala: A New Model for International Criminal Justice Mechanisms (02/18/2010)
- HRF Hosts Event on UN Commission in Guatemala, July 2009
- International Conference on CICIG, December 2007
- HRF Press Release welcoming establishment of CICIG
- Media Article re establishment of CICIG and HRF analysis
- Recent UN Report by the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions calling for the establishment of CICIG