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Ban Ki-moon holds first talks with head of Guatemalan probe into armed groups

Ban Ki-moon holds first talks with head of Guatemalan probe into armed groups

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has held his first talks with the head of an independent body recently set up with the help of the United Nations to investigate the presence and activities of illegal armed groups in Guatemala.

Mr. Ban met with Carlos Castresana Fernández at UN Headquarters in New York yesterday, UN spokesperson Michele Montas told reporters.

Mr. Castresana told the Secretary-General that the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (known by its Spanish initials as CICIG) is still in its preparatory phase and is likely to start operating by the beginning of January next year.

Ms. Montas said Mr. Ban voiced his full support for the work of the Commission and thanked Mr. Castresana for accepting the post.

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 the Commission’s tasks is to recommend public policies and any legal or institutional measures for eradicating illegal armed groups and preventing their re-emergence. The costs are expected to be borne by voluntary contributions from the international community.

Over three decades of conflict in Guatemala ended with the signing of peace accords in December of 1996, but 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.