Guatemala should act on proposed body to probe armed groups – Ban Ki-moon

Guatemala should act on proposed body to probe armed groups – Ban Ki-moon

With talks underway in Guatemala’s Congress on a proposed independent body to investigate illegal armed groups, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today voiced hope that the country will take “this important opportunity” to fight impunity.

Under a December 2006 agreement between the Government and the UN, 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 Congress.

Mr. Ban hopes that Guatemala “will seize this important opportunity to use international assistance to strengthen its national judicial institutions in the fight against impunity in a way that is fully respectful of Guatemalan sovereignty,” said his spokesperson in a statement.

“The Secretary-General wishes to emphasize that safeguarding public security and solidifying the rule of law are not challenges unique to Guatemala, but shared by many other countries emerging from conflict,” the statement added.

The Commission will be able to conduct its own investigations and also help local institutions, particularly the Office of the Public Prosecutor. While it will be an independent, non-UN body, its commissioner will be appointed by the Secretary-General and report periodically to him.

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. The costs are expected to be borne by voluntary contributions from the international community.