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UN-supported probe into armed groups in Guatemala set to begin work

UN-supported probe into armed groups in Guatemala set to begin work

The independent body recently set up with the help of the United Nations to investigate the presence and activities of illegal armed groups in Guatemala will be officially launched today in the Central American nation’s capital.

Participating in today’s ceremony will be the UN’s top political official, B. Lynn Pascoe, as well as Carlos Castresana Fernández, the former Spanish prosecutor designated by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to head the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (known by its Spanish initials as CICIG).

The Commission was established under an agreement between the UN and the Guatemalan Government that came into effect on 4 September last year. An independent, non-UN body, the CICIG 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 CICIG, which operates with assistance from the UN Department of Political Affairs (DPA) in New York and support in Guatemala from the UN Development Programme (UNDP), is funded entirely 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, conduct criminal activities and violate human rights.