Commission Against Impunity (CICIG) Suspended in Guatemala

TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 9 Sep 2019

Cristina Cabrejas-Artola – TRANSCEND Media Service

4 Sep 2019 – In a country where economic growth and democratic institutions are jeopardized by high levels of corruption, the Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) was created as an anti-corruption independent body of investigators, to assist Guatemala’s judicial institutions in the fight against organised crime.

Such initiative was agreed and signed between the United Nations and Guatemala’s government under the presidency of Oscar Rafael Berger Perdomo (2004-2008) back in 2006.

An illustration of the CICIG effectiveness is its biannual extension due to the large number of criminal cases that have been brought to light, including the illicit financing of President Jimmy Morales electoral campaign in 2015. The CICIG key achievements are due to its close cooperation with prosecutors exposing criminal networks, drug traffickers, military officers, judges, lawmakers and even presidents.

After a decade of successful corruption investigations the CICIG is, according to many regional analysts and international diplomats “the region’s most experienced and successful crime-fighting force, it [that] offers a model for the fight against impunity”.

With such accrued testimonials, the question might therefore be, was the CICIG economically sustainable and practically viable? The CICIG yearly cost was estimated to be US$12m to US$15m where the USA has so far, financed half of the costs. Although lately, there have been allegations by USA Republicans, that Russia could be influencing the commission, a funding of US$6m was put on hold until such allegations were cleared.

On the other hand, if the capital stolen from customs briberies could be recovered, the CICIG could be self financed for a few more year clearing the path for Guatemala’s democratic rule and economic growth.

Moreover, the CICIG success could have an imminent domino effect in neighbouring states such as El Salvador and Honduras, which are already open to adopt the same anti corruption initiative. They just need the international community to facilitate the economic means to establish similar independent commissions in their respective countries.

Unfortunately, one of the most important national criticisms is that the commission acts on the interests of USA and the EU, hence the sovereignty of the state is breached. Also the current administration of President Morales dismissed the commission entirely as he sustains the anti corruption reforms diminish the state court’s powers. Conceivably, the CICIG investigation on his own illicit presidential campaign contributed to President Morales decision to suspend the CICIG contract renewal this month, September 2019.

We should now expect Guatemala’s own government officials to take alternative measures, at least equally effective as the CICIG, to counter one of the world’s highest levels of national crime and corruption. Failing to create an anti-corruption system, the country’s development will continue to be stagnant, generating unprecedented levels of human exploitation that will continue to affect Guatemala’s national security, as well as the national security of its neighbouring states in Central America.

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Cristina Cabrejas-Artola is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment. She holds a Master’s degree in International Relations by Middlesex University in Dubai. Her career priorities include engaging in community programs and improving the Arab identity through sports and cultural events. She previously served as a business conflict mediator in the Middle East.


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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 9 Sep 2019.

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