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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

Innovative Legal Partnering to Prosecute Public Corruption in Guatemala

Public government corruption surely is one of the most venal of all misdeeds. A weekend NYT article by Elisabeth Malkin covered in brief an interesting story regarding an innovative UN project to root out public corruption and organized crime in Guatemala through a prosecution partnership known as CiCig. The program is detailed in full at the CiCig website. In short, the CiCig program brings in "outsider" laywers to partner with existing government agencies to investigate and prosecute corruption.

The following excerpt from the website provides an overview:

"CICIG’s mandate, as established in the Agreement, is comprised of three principal objectives:

  1. First, CICIG shall investigate the existence of illicit security forces and clandestine security organizations that commit crimes that affect the fundamental human rights of the citizens of Guatemala, and identify the illegal group structures (including links between State officials and organized crime), activities, modes of operation and sources of financing.

  2. Second, CICIG’s professional personnel shall support the work of Guatemalan institutions, principally the Attorney General in his work to investigate and prosecute the individuals involved in the illegal groups. Additionally, CICIG will make recommendations to the Government for the adoption of new public policies mechanisms and procedures directed at the eradication of these groups and will strengthen the State’s capacity to protect the basic human rights of its citizens.

  3. Third, the Commission shall provide technical assistance to Justice Sector institutions in order to leave the Public Prosecutors Office and National Civilian Police better equipped to fight organized crime even after the conclusion of CICIG’s mandate.

As provided in the Agreement, CICIG has the legal ability to support the Public Prosecutors Office in criminal prosecutions, and participate as complementary prosecutor (querellante adhesivo) in the prosecutorial process, in conformity with the Code of Criminal Procedure. The Commission also has legal standing to make administrative complaints against public officials, in particular when officials have committed acts with the purpose to obstruct the fulfillment of CICIG’s mandate, and can act as an interested third party in disciplinary procedures initiated against such officials."

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