Guatemala’s Counterattack against Anti-Corruption Campaign

Gabriel Labrador writes in El Faro about the concerted attack by affected powers against anti-corruption figures in Guatemala. Targets include Judge Erika Aifán, who leads the capital’s highest-risk ‘D’ court, the Director of the Special Prosecutor’s Office Against Impunity (FECI), Juan Francisco Sandoval, and the Human Rights Ombudsperson, Jordán Rodas Andrade, amongst others.

Since January 2016, Judge Érika Aifán has filed more than 100 complaints against employees of her Guatemala City court for espionage, leaking documents, dereliction of duty, and a variety of other actions. She has brought the complaints before the Judiciary’s disciplinary system and the Public Prosecutor’s Office (led by the attorney general), but in all these years, she has not received a response. Many of her complaints have been rejected and only in one case did the Public Prosecutor’s Office take up the case to initiate proceedings. She was notified of that case at the beginning of June. The defendant in that case is a former process server, and Aifán discovered that he was leaking rulings on WhatsApp before they were officially communicated. Aifán had denounced that same employee seven more times before he was transferred to another court. Aifán has had to denounce other employees up to 20 or 30 times, but the result is usually the same: nothing happens.

Something different occurs with complaints filed against Judge Aifán, who since 2016 has led the capital’s highest-risk D court. She has been denounced some twenty times and there have been occasions in which the complaint has succeeded to the point of sanctioning her with a fine and opening a criminal case. In the latter case, the Third Chamber of the Court of Appeals filed the complaint because Aifán allegedly spoke to journalists to damage the Chamber’s image. The complaint is implausible, since Aifán is not quoted in the article even once. The article in question deals with a lawsuit the judge brought against the Third Chamber, in which the Constitutional Court ruled in her favor. Because of this newspaper article, as a type of revenge, the Chamber had an investigation opened, which could end up putting her in jail. Through March 2021, Aifán has racked up 22 complaints against her, filed by court employees, individual lawyers, and even judges.

What is happening with Aifán and her court describes what Guatemala is fighting these days: another battle for control over its courts and justice system. The courts are the arena where claims intersect like pieces on a chessboard where the players aren’t always clear. Lawyers against judges, judges against lawyers, lawyers against lawyers, prosecutors against judges.

You can read the full article here, Guatemala’s Counterattack against Anti-Corruption Campaign, which is a translation from the original Spanish article which can be read here, Un poder a la sombra se ensaña contra la resistencia en Guatemala.

The translation into English was done by Jessica Kirstein.

Categories: Corruption, Criminalisation, Guatemala, Human Rights, Impunity, Justice, Legal, Lobbying, Violence

Tags: , , , , ,

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