Impunity In Guatemala: Institutions, Strategies And Problems

2206 words - 9 pages


Impunity means "exemption from punishment or loss or escape from fines". In the international law of human rights, it refers to the failure to bring perpetrators of human rights violations to justice and, as such, itself constitutes a denial of the victims' right to justice and compensation. Impunity is especially common in countries that lack a tradition of the rule of law, suffer from corruption or that have entrenched systems of patronage, or where the judicial system is weak or members of the security forces are protected by special jurisdictions or immunities (Vasquez, 2014).
Impunity has always been present throughout the history of contemporary Guatemala. The absence of ...view middle of the document...

I am going to do so by exposing two different cases in which the Government and CICIG’s reputation has been put at risk.

In May 1985, the National Constituent Assembly presented a new constitution for Guatemala. With this, the end was coming down to decades of military rule and a democratic-liberal system in the country “institutionalized”. The new constitution sought to end the repression against the state and reduce levels of uncertainty as to the law.
Despite all the problems faced by the Guatemalan political system, there were cases of impunity and judicial indolence, which affected the image of the new democratic system the most. One of the most important happened in September 1990, it was the murder of anthropologist Myrna Mack, who elaborated a study on human rights violations and migrations of people affected by the conflict. Although the crime remained unpunished at the time, the victim's sister and a foundation that bears the name of Myrna Mack, since then have struggled to clarify the crime, even taking the case before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and to Guatemalan courts.
Despite generating elements of instability in the political system, a new election was achieved and Álvaro Arzú is elected President of the Republic. The expectations, both national and international, for this new leader was the end of the armed conflict, the “demilitarization” of the country and the fight against violence and impunity. Indeed, on December 29th 1996, the Government of Guatemala and the URNG (main guerrilla group) signed the Agreement on a Firm and Lasting Peace, ending the internal armed conflict.
Subsequently, since 2003, under the command of President Portillo, the Government of Guatemala requested assistance to the Department of Political Affairs of the UN to investigate and prosecute violent illegal groups. This evidenced the recognition on the part of the country, of its weak justice system. The State couldn’t cope with the reforms that ought necessarily face.
Discussions continued with the Department of Political Affairs, and the agreement to establish the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), was signed with the United Nations on December 12, 2006 ... (CICIG, International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, 2011). CICIG is an institutional effort that aims to contribute to the solutions to the problems diagnosed in the Guatemalan justice system and security. Thus seeks to create a synergy that regenerates security at all levels and increase the degree of freedom of the citizens of the country (Luiña, Barrueto, Castillo, Kroner, & Mejía, 2011).

Guatemalans struggled to survive year 2009. Their already precarious conditions on human development and governance became worse as a result of higher levels of violence, insecurity and impunity, together with an increase in organized crime, the effects of the international financial crisis and the impact of global warming (Chirouze, 2010).
In May, a...

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