Gloria Porras recently wrote an Opinion piece in Americas Quarterly on the challenges she has faced as a Magistrate in Guatemala’s Constitutional Court, and continues to face following the Guatemala Congress rejection of her election to the current bench. Anyone following the news in Guatemala would understand that this rejection is rooted in corruption and impunity.
I have served as a justice for Guatemala’s highest tribunal – the Constitutional Court – for the last decade. My record will show votes to deny amnesty for crimes against humanity, as well as decisions establishing strong precedent in favor of indigenous rights. In March, I was elected to a third consecutive term on the court.
And yet, on April 13, Congress blocked me from swearing in. The move, based on a technicality, citing irregularities in my election by Guatemala’s Supreme University Council and the fact that I’m not a university professor, follows requests from the same coalition of lawmakers to remove my legal immunity as a judge. Together, these efforts to punish me for my decisions on the bench are an affront to judicial independence.
I am speaking out because Guatemala’s democracy, rule of law and stability are under attack at a time when the stakes for the country and its neighbors are especially high. The new administration in Washington has promised to help Guatemala address the violence and poverty pushing families to migrate north, but it has also stressed that rule of law and anti-corruption must be central to any partnership.
This is about much more than me. I see my removal as a direct threat to the authority of the Constitutional Court, which since Guatemala’s transition to democracy has played a pivotal role solving high stakes controversies in a democratic, institutional manner.
You can read the full piece, here, Guatemala’s Justice System Is at a Breaking Point.
For more background on the elections to the Constitutional Court and its importance for justice in Guatemala, you can read this, Very High Stakes – Elections to the Constitutional Court.