ILAC completed a rule of law and justice sector assessment mission in Guatemala on Friday, 20 October 2017. Our team, composed of 8 experts, investigated ongoing efforts to strengthen the rule of law in Guatemala to provide a reliable roadmap for more effective ways forward.
ILAC’s mission comes at a critical moment in Guatemala’s history, when corruption and impunity continue to pose serious challenges despite sustained efforts to reform the judicial system.
Over the course of two weeks, ILAC assessed the role and capacity of courts and prosecutorial services, as well as several thematic issues facing the justice sector in Guatemala today, including corruption and impunity, land conflicts and criminalisation of protest, discrimination and violence against women.
In Guatemala City and throughout rural areas, ILAC’s team met with a wide-range of justice sector actors, educators and civil society representatives, including indigenous communities and groups advocating equal rights for women and LGBT persons.
The delegation included the following ILAC members and their experts:
- Nerea Aparicio (Spain), Director, Latin American and the Caribbean Division, American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative. Previous experience as Human Rights and Justice Officer for the UN Mission on Verification of the Peace Accords in Guatemala (MINUGUA) and Principal Specialist at the Inter- American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).
- Judge Josselyne Béjar Rivera (Mexico), Member of the International Association of Women Judges, Sitting Judge at the 6thCriminal Court of the State of Jalisco, Mexico, Secretary of the Mexican Association of Women Judges and Magistrates, and Professor of Law at University of Guadalajara.
- Ramón Cadena Rámila (Guatemala), Regional Director for Central America, International Commission of Jurists, Professor at the Human Rights Institute of the San Carlos University. Previous experience with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
- Mike Enwall (USA), Individual Member of ILAC. Previous experience as President of the Colorado Criminal Defence Bar, Chief Judge of the 20thJudicial District of the state of Colorado, and ILAC Country Representative to Liberia from 2007 to 2010.
- Judge Gabriela Knaul (Brazil), Member of the International Association of Women Judges, Sitting Judge at the Mato Grosso State Court. Previous experience as the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers (2009-2015).
- Luis Maria Palma (Argentina), Member of the National Center for State Courts, Vice President of the Latin America chapter of the International Association for Court Administration, Director of the Center for Judicial Studies of the University of Buenos Aires and the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies of the University of Belgrano.
- Carolina Valenzuela (Canada), Member of the International Association of Prosecutors, Crown Prosecutor in the Province of Alberta, including four years of experience in the Domestic Violence Unit.
- Sue Willman (UK), Member of the Human Rights Committee of the Law Society of England and Wales, Equity Partner and Director of Deighton Pierce Glynn Solicitors, and Member of the Colombia Caravana, a UK lawyers group.
- Rhodri Williams (Sweden), ILAC Senior Legal Expert and Team Leader. Previous experience coordinating ILAC justice sector assessment in Libya (2013) and assessment of court administration in Tunisia (2015).
- Leonor Selva Flores (El Salvador), ILAC report writer. Previous experience as a Political Assistant at the US Embassy in San Salvador, and as a Judicial Assistant for the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice of El Salvador.
With the fourth highest murder rate in the world, Guatemala is still suffering the effects of nearly four decades of brutal internal conflict (1960-1996). The International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG, Spanish acronym)— an independent UN-backed body that investigates corruption and organised crime in the country— has reported that a steady rise in crime coupled with the state’s failure to bring perpetrators to justice impedes the rule of law, impairing economic development and damaging public trust in official institutions.
ILAC will release its Guatemala assessment mission report in early 2018.