Guatemala hails ‘unprecedented collaboration’ with UN on armed groups probe

27 September 2007

The independent body being set up to investigate the presence and activities of illegal armed groups in Guatemala represents a unique joint effort between the United Nations and a Member State, the country’s President told the General Assembly today.

The independent body being set up to investigate the presence and activities of illegal armed groups in Guatemala represents a unique joint effort between the United Nations and a Member State, the country’s President told the General Assembly today.

Oscar Berger Perdomo told the Assembly’s annual high-level debate that the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) will improve the Central American nation’s capacity to investigate and prosecute criminal activity.

“It is an unprecedented collaboration between a Member State and the United Nations in order to combat impunity and particularly transnational crime; an endeavour that will surely leave very tangible benefits as much to my country as important learning lessons to the United Nations,” he said.

CICIG was established under an agreement between the UN and the Guatemalan Government that came into effect on 4 September. An independent, non-UN body, the Commission will be able to conduct its own investigations and also help local institutions, particularly the Office of the Public Prosecutor.

One of CICIG’s 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.

The President said the UN occupies a special place in his country’s foreign policy, especially for the work of MINUGUA, the UN Verification Mission in Guatemala, which operated after the end of the country’s long-running civil war in the mid-1990s.

More than three decades of conflict in Guatemala ended with the signing of peace accords in December 1996, but CICIG is being set up amid mounting concern in recent years that illegal security groups and clandestine security organizations continue to operate with impunity, conducting criminal activities and violating human rights.

 

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