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Guatemala and UN sign deal for independent body to probe illegal armed groups

Guatemala and UN sign deal for independent body to probe illegal armed groups

The United Nations today signed an agreement with the Guatemalan Government to set up an independent commission to investigate illegal armed groups that have been operating in the Central American country with impunity and to help justice officials carry out criminal prosecutions against them.

The International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (to be known as CICIG, its Spanish acronym) will have an initial mandate of two years, pending approval by the country’s Congress. It will be able to conduct its own investigations and also help local institutions, particularly the Office of the Public Prosecutor.

One of its tasks is to recommend public policies and any legal or institutional measures for eradicating the illegal armed groups and preventing their re-emergence.

While CICIG will be an independent, non-UN body, its commissioner will be appointed by the Secretary-General and report periodically to him.

Under-Secretary-General Ibrahim Gambari and Guatemalan Vice-President Eduardo Stein signed an agreement in New York today to create CICIG, whose costs are expected to be borne by voluntary contributions from the international community.

Mr. Gambari said the UN is trying to help Guatemala as it moves to “solidify democracy and the rule of law by exposing and dismantling criminal groups that grew out of the armed conflict,” which ended in 1996 through UN-brokered peace agreements.

Concern has been mounting in recent years that illegal security groups and clandestine security organizations have continued to operate with impunity, conducting criminal activities and violating human rights.

The agreement details how such behaviour weakens “the ability of the State to fulfil its obligation to guarantee the protection of the life and physical integrity of its citizens and provide full access to justice, with the resulting loss of confidence of citizens in the democratic institutions of the country.”